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THE Masters of modern french criticism. 


An Essay on the Confusion of the Aits. 

Essays in Defense of the Humanities. 


Boston and New York 





Author 0 / “Rousseau and Romanticism," “The Masters of 
Modem French Criticism” “The Nett Laokoon," etc. 



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0^ filbersCBc PreiF 

Such legislation [against private property] may have a spe* 
cious appearance of benevolence; men readily listen to it, and 
are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner 
everybody will become everybody’s friend, especially when 
some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, 
. . . which are said to arise out of the possession of private 
property. These evils, however, are due to a very different 
cause — the wickedness of human nature. 

Ahistotle: Politics, 1263b, 11. 

SociETT cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and 
appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is 
within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the 
eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds 
cannot be free. 

Burke: Letter Co a member of the National Assembly. 

The fundamental article of my political creed is that desi»t- 
ism or unlimited sovereignty or absolute power is the same in a 
majoritj^ of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an 
oligarchical junto, and a single emperor — equally arbitrary, 
cruel, bloody and in every respect diabolical. 

John Adj&is: Ldter to Thomas Jefferson (13 November, 1815) 

Den einzelnen Verkehrtheiten des Tags sollte man immer nur 
grosse weltgeschichtliche Massen entgegensetzen. 

Goethe: SprUcAe. 


Pakts of this book were used in a series of four lec- 
tures that I gave at Kenyon College on the Larwill 
Foun(Jation in March, 1920. I called the series 
“Democracy and Imperialism." In April, 1922, 1 
gave four lectures at the Leland Stanford Univer- 
sity on the West Foundation. This series, which I 
entitled “The Ethical Basis of Democracy,” con- 
tained some of the same material as the Kenyon 
series, altered, however, in form and with consider- 
able additions. Finally, I drew on certain chapters 
of the volume for a course of public lectures deliv- 
ered at the Sorbonne (March-May, 1923) under the 
title “Les Ecrits politiques de J.-J, Rousseau.” I 
desire to.thank the authorities of these institutions 
for various courtesies extended to me in connection 
with the giving of the lectures. 

CAMBBIDaB, Massacbubbttb 
February, 1924 

1. B. 


Intboduction 1 

I. The Types of Political Thinking 27 

II. Rqusseah and the Idyllic Imagination 70 

III. Bttbke and the Moral Imagination 97 

IV. Democracy and Impebiausm 117 

V. Europe and Asia 158 

VI. True and False Liberals 186 

VII. Democracy and Standards 239 

Appendix A: Theories of the Will 319 

Appendix B: Absolute Sovereignty 331 

Bibuography 337 

Index 345 



• • 



According to Mr. Lloyd George, the future will be even 
more exclusively taken up than is the present with the 
economic problem, especially with the relations between 
capital and labor. In that case, one is tempted to reply, 
the future will be very superficial. When studied with 
any degree of thoroughness, the economic problem will 
be found to run into the political problem, the political 
problem in turn into the philosophical problem, and the 
philosophical problem itself to be almost indissolubly 
bound up at last with the religious problem. This book 
is only one of a series in which I have been trying to 
bring out these deeper implications of the modern move- 
ment. Though devoted to different topics, the volumes 
of the series are yet bound together by their common 
preoccupation with the naturalistic trend,' which goes 
back in some of its main aspects at least as far as the 
Renaissance, but which won its decisive triumphs over 
tradition in the eighteenth century. Among the men of 
the eighteenth century who prepared the way for the 
world in which we are now living I have, here as else- 
where in my writing, given a preeminent place to Rous- 
seau. It is hard for any one who has investigated the 


facts to deny him this preeminence, even though one 
should not go so far as to say with Lord Acton that 
“Rousseau produced more effect with his pen than Aris- 
totle, or Cicero, or Saint Augustine, or Saint Thomas 
Aquinas, or any other man who ever lived.” ^ The great 
distinction of Rousseau in the history of thought, if my 
own analysis be correct, is that he gave the wrong an- 
swers to the right questions. It is no small distinction 
even to have asked the right questions. 

Rousseau has at all events suggested to me the terms 
in which I have treated my present topic. He is easily 
first among the theorists of radical democracy, ife is 
a lso the most em inent of those who have attacked civili- 
zation. Moreover, he has broi^ht his advocacy of de-' 
mocracy and hjs attack on civilization into a definite 
relatmsKp with one another. Herein he seems to go 
deeper' thah th ose who relate demb^acy, not to the 
q uestion o f civ ilization versus, barbarism, but to tbe 
q uestion of pr ogress Yersus_reaction. For <why should 
men progress unless it can be shown that they are pTo- 
gressing towards civilization; or of what avail, again^is 
progress if barbarism is, as Rousseau affirms, more felici- 
tous? If we thought clearly enough, we should probably 
dismiss as somewhat old-fashioned, as a mere survivor of 
the nineteenth century, the man who puts his primaiy 
emphasis on the contrast between the progressive and 
the reactionary, and turn our attention to the more es- 
sential contrast between the civilized man and the bar- 
barian. The man of the nineteenth century was indeed 
wont to take for granted that the type of progress he 
* See Letters of Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone, p xu. 


' 3 

sought to promote was a progress towards civilization. 
Some persons began to have doubts on this point even 
before the War, others had their doubts awakened by 
the War itself, and still others have been made doubtful 
by the peace. An age that thought it was progressing 
towards a “far-off divine event,” and turned out instead 
to be progressing towards Armageddon, suffered, one 
cannot help surmising, from some fundamental confu- 
sion in its notions of progress. One may be aided in 
detecting the natime of this confusion by the Emersonian 
distinction of which I have made considerable use in my 
previous writing — the distinction, namely, between a 
“law for man” and a “law for thing.” The special 
praise that Confucius bestowed on his favorite disciple 
"was that he was “always progressing and never came to 
a standstill.” What Confucius plainly had in mind was 
progress according to the human law. What the man of 
the nineteenth century meant as a rule by the term was 
no less plainly material progress. He seems to have as- 
sumed, so far as he gave the subject any thought at all, 
that moral progress would issue almost automatically 
from material progress. In view of the duality of human 
experience, the whole question is, however, vastly more 
complex than the ordinary progressive has ever sus- 
pected. Progress according to the natural law must, if it 
is to make for civilization, be subordinated to some ade- 
quate end; and the natural law does not in itself supply 
this end. As a result of the neglect of this truth, we have 
the type of man who deems himself progressive and is 
yet pursuing power and speed for their own sake, the 
man who does not care where he is going, as some one 


has put it, provided only he can go there faster and 

■ If progress and civilization do not mean more than 
this, one might be justified in sharing Rousseau’s pre- 
dilection for barbarism. The reason he gives for pre- 
ferring the barbaric to the civilized state is in itself 
extremely weighty: the barbaric state is, he maintains, 
the more fraternal. The fraternal spirit is the fine 
flower, not merely of genuine philosophy, but of genuine 
religion. One should be ready to make almost any 
sacrifice in order to attain it. My endeavor has, how- 
ever, been to show that Rousseau’s fraternity is only a 
sentimental dream. The psychic impossibility involved 
in this dream is obvious, one may even say, glaring. 
For example, Walt Whitman, one of the chief of Rous- 
seau's American followers, preaches universal brother- 
hood among men each one of whom is, like himself, 
to “permit to speak at every hazard. Nature without 
check with original energy”;^ in other words. Whit- 
man proposes to base brotherhood, a religious virtue, 
on expansive appetite. 

1 I have tried here and elsewhere to show that demo- 
cratic fraternity, as a Rousseau and a Whitman conceive 
it, and progress, as the utilitarian conceives it, are, 
however much they may clash at certain points, 
nevertheless only different aspects of the same natu- 
ralistic movement. This movement may be defined in 
its totality as humanitarianism. I ventured the asser- 
tion several years ago that something is omitted in this 
movement, and that the something may turn out to be 
* See Song of Myself. 



the keystone of the arch.‘ The error that results from 
this central omission assumes many forms. I choose 
almost’ at random a very crude form — the form in 
which it is finally reaching the man in the street. A 
writer in a widely circulated magazine, “Photoplay,” 
devotes several editorial paragraphs to denouncing the 
people who say “don’t”; they are, he complains, mere 
destroyers, the enemies of every generous creative im- 
pulse. Only in so far as one gets rid of the don’ts does 
one fulfil the saying of the Teacher, “I am come that ye 
shall have life, and that ye shall have it more abun- 
dantly.” Mr. Henry Ford would no doubt dismiss such 
utterances as part of the great Jewish plot to destroy 
Gentile civilization. It was not, however, a Jew, but 
Madame de Stael who declared that everjrthing expan- 
sive in human nature is divine. This notion of a divine 
expansiveness has a long history in the Occident anterior 
to Madame de Stael, a history that in some of its phases 
goes at least as far back as the Neoplatonists. 

In any case the assertion that one attains to more 
abundant life (in the religious sense) by getting rid of 
the don’ts sums up clearly, even though in an extreme 
form, the side of the modern movement with which I 
am taking issue. This book in particular is devoted to 
the most unpopular of all tasks — a defence of the veto 
power. Not the least singular feature of the singular 
epoch in which we are living is that the very persons 
who are least willing to hear about the veto power are 
likewise the persons who are most certain that they 
stand for the virtues that depend upon its exercise — 

* See The Masters of Modem French Criticism (1912), p. 188. 


for example, peace and brotherhood. As against the 
expansionists of every kind, I do not hesitate to affirm 
that what is specifically human in man and ultimately 
divine is a certain quality of will, a will that is felt in its 
relation to his ordinary self as a will to refrain. The 
affirmation of this quality of will is nothing new: it is 
implied in the Pauline opposition between a law of the 
spirit and a law of the members. In general, the 
primacy accorded to will over intellect is Oriental. The 
idea of humility, the idea that man needs to defer to a 
higher will, came into Europe with an Oriental religion, 
Christianity. This idea has been losing ground in al- 
most exact ratio to the decline of Christianity. Inas- 
much as the recognition of the supremacy of will seems 
to me imperative in any wise view of life, I side in im- 
portant respects with the Christian against those who 
have in the Occident, whether in ancient or modem 
times, inclined to give the first place either to the in- 
tellect or the emotions. I differ from the Christian, 
however, in that my interest in the higher will and the 
power of veto it exercises over man’s expansive desires 
is humanistic rather than religious. I am concerned, in 
other words, less with the meditation in which true 
religion always culminates, than in the mediation or ob- 
servance of the law of measure that should govern man 
in his secular relations. Moreover, I am for coming at 
my humanism in a positive and critical rather than in a 
merely traditional manner. To this extent I am with 
the naturalists, who have from the start been rejecting 
outer authority in favor of the immediate and experi- 
mental. One should have only respect for the man of 



science in so far as he deals in this critical fashion with 
the natural law — and no snaall part of human nature 
itself comes under the natural law. The error begins 
when an attempt is made to extend this law to cover the 
whole of human nature. This is to deny not merely 
outer authority, but something that is a matter of im- 
mediate experience, the opposition, namely, of which 
the individual is conscious in himself, between a law of 
the spirit and a law of the members. Deny or dis- 
simulate this opposition and the inner life tends in the 
same measure to disappear. Carlyle’s contrast between 
the Rousseauism of the French Revolution and true 
Christianity is also the contrast between humanitarian- 
ism in general, in either its sentimental or its utilitarian 
form, and any doctrine that aflSrms the higher will. 
“Alas, no, M. Roux!” Carlyle exclaims. “A Gospel of 
Brotherhood not according to any of the four old 
Evangelists and calling on men to repent, and amend 
each his <wn*wicked existence, that they might be saved; 
but a Gospel rather, as we often hint, according to a new 
fifth Evangelist Jean-Jacques, calling on men to amend 
each the whole world’s wicked existence and be saved by 
making the Constitution. A thing different and distant 
toto ccelo.” 

My own objection to this substitution of social re- 
form for self-reform is that it involves the turning away 
from the more immediate to the less immediate. In 
general I have sought in my attack on the utilitarian- 
sentimental movement to avoid metaphysical and 
theological assumptions, and to rely on psychological 
analysis supported by an immense and growing body of 


evidence. My humanism is in this sense not only posi- 
tive and critical, but, what will be found to come to the 
same thing, individualistic. Under existing conditions, 
the significant struggle seems to me to be not that be- 
tween the unsound individualist and the traditionalist, 
nor again, as is currently assumed, that between the un- 
sound individualist and the altruist, but that between 
the sound and the unsound individualist. To be a sound 
individualist, one needs, as I take it, to retain one’s hold 
on the truths of the inner life, even though breaking 
more or less completely with the past. 

It may help to a fuller understanding of my present 
attempt to deal in a fashion at once critical and human- 
istic with the problem of the will in its bearing on the 
political problem if I say a few words at this point about 
certain previous stages in my argiunent. In the opening 
chapters of “Literature and the American College” I 
seek to discriminate between the humanist and the 
humanitarians of either the utilitarian of the senti- 
mental brand. These two sides of the movement I 
sometimes term the Baconian and the Ptousseauistic 
after the names of the men who seem to me to have pre- 
figured them most completely in their writings and per- 
sonalities. The humanitarian is not, I pointed out, 
primarily concerned, like the humanist, with the individ- 
ual and his inner life, but with the welfare and progress 
of mankind in the lump. His favorite word is “service.” 
The cmrent tendency to regard humanism simply as an 
abbreviated and more convenient form for humanitari- 
anism can only be the source of the most vicious con- 



In “The Masters of Modern French Criticism” I 
attempt .to carry a stage farther my defence of a critical 
humanism. Though the basis of the inner life is the op- 
position between a lower and a higher will, the higher 
will cannot, after all, act at random. It must have 
standards. Formerly the standards were supplied by 
tradition. The man who accepted Christian tradition, 
for example, was in no doubt as to the kind and degree 
of discipline he needed to impose on his lower nature. 
He thus achieved some measure of moral unity with 
himself and also with other men who accepted the 
same discipline. If the individualist, on the other hand, 
is to have standards, he must rely on the critical spirit 
in direct ratio to the completeness of his break with the 
traditional unifications of life. He is confronted at the 
outset with the most difficult of philosophical problems 
— that of the One and the Many. For it is obvious that 
standards cannot exist unless there is an element of one- 
ness somewhere with which to measme the infinite 
otherwiseness of things. The special theme of “The 
Masters” is the problem of the One and the Many and 
the failure of Sainte-Beuve and other eminent French in- 
dividualists to deal with it adequately and so to achieve 
standards in a modem fashion. The results of the critical 
endeavor of the past century may be summed up most 
completely, perhaps, in the word relativity. The failure 
of criticism to attain to any centre of judgment set 
above the shifting impressions of the individual and the 
flux of phenomenal nature is a defeat for civilization it- 
self, if it be true, as I have tried to show, that civiliza- 
tion must ultimately depend on the maintenance of 


standards. In “ The New Laokoon ” I have sought to ex- 
hibit the anarchy that has supervened in literature and 
the arts with the progressive decline of standards. Super- 
ficially, this anarchy seems above all an anarchy of the 
emotions. On closer scrutiny, however, emotional an- 
archy itself turns out to be only a sign of something sub- 
tler and more dangerous — anarchy of the imagination. 
In “Rousseau and Romanticism,” a book that- is closely 
connected in argument with “The New Laokoon,” the 
problem of the imagination receives special treatment. 
I come here to another distinctive feature of the type of 
humanism I am defending. I not only have more to say 
of will and less of reason than the humanist in the 
Grffico-Roman tradition, but I also grant a most im- 
portant r61e to imagination. If one does not, like 
Diderot, dismiss as “artificial” the conflict between a 
natural or expansive will and a specifically human will 
or will to refrain, if, on the contrary, one insists on this 
conflict as a primordial fact of consciousness, one will 
be led, I believe, to the further conclusion that the 
outcome of this “civil war in the cave” will be deter- 
mined by the attitude of the imagination; that the 
imagination, in other words, holds the balance of power 
between the higher and the lower nature of man. In the 
light of history (one need not go any farther back than 
the Great War) man’s pretence to be governed by 
reason in any ordinary sense of the word seems a bad 
jest. The critical observer is forced to agree with 
Napoleon that, not reason, but “imagination governs 
mankind.” It does not follow that mankind need be 
governed, as it has been very largely during the past 
century, by the Napoleonic quality of imagination. 



The complaint has been made that the word imagi- 
nation has been used in so many senses that it has 
ceased to have any meaning. My own understanding 
of the term may perhaps be made clearer by a brief 
historical survey. The Latin word {irmgimtio) from 
which our word is derived is itself a rendering of the 
Greek phantasy or fancy {^avratrLa). Fancy means 
literally “what appears”; in other words, either the 
various impressions of sense, or else a faculty that 
stores up these Impressions and is therefore closely 
related to memory. Greek philosophy gave a rather 
low rating to “fancy” or appearance in comparison 
with reality, which it inclined to identify with reason or 
mind. To the Stoic in particular it seemed both feasible 
and imperative that reason should hold sway over all 
the impressions that beat upon the gateway of the 
senses and make a severe selection among them. “How 
easy a thing it is,” says Marcus Aurelius, “ to put away 
and blot ‘out every ‘fancy’ [i.e., impression] that is dis- 
turbing or alien, and to be at once in perfect peace.” The 
disparagement of fancy in this sense is already found in 
Plato. He hopes to attain a truth that is “firm and not 
pulled around this way and that by our ‘fancy.’” ^ A 
chief source of Christian humility, on the other hand, was 
the conviction that man is unable by his own resources 
to achieve any such truth, the conviction, above all, 

‘ Cratylm, 386 E. It goes without saying that no philosopher 
affords better examples of the higher uses of the imagination 
(in the extended sense that we have come to give to the word) 
than Plato. As for the Platonic theory of the imagination in 
this extended sense, it is not altogether easy to grasp, even after 
every allowance has been made for changes in terminology. 


that mere reason cannot prevail over the deceits of the 
senses. Pascal, for example, gives to the word imagi- 
nation about the same meaning that the Stoic gave 
either to it or its Greek equivalent, and like the Stoic 
he disparages imagination; only to this disparagement 
he adds the disparagement of reason. What he opposes 
to an imagination that is only a “mistress of error” and 
to a reason that is impotent to resist this error is the 
“heart,” by which he means the illumination of the 
higher will in the form of grace. This inner revelation 
has itself the support of outer revelation. Here, he 
holds, one may find at last a firm footing of truth and 
reality. He does not admit that imagination has any 
part either in outer revelation or in the life of the 
“heart.” He has this much at least in common with 
Plato that he believes it possible to draw a firm and 
fast line between imagination (or mere appearance) 
and reality. Strict psychology, however, scarcely 
warrants any such sharp discrimination between the 
true and the illusory. It forces one rather to conclude 
with Joubert that “illusion is an integral part of reality.” 
This conclusion, however damaging it may be to mere 
dogma, does not force one to forego standards. But in 
that case one needs to attend to another possible mean- 
ing of the word imagination, the second main meaning, 
one is tempted to say, that the word has actually had 
in Occidental thought. The word in this other meaning 
stands less for what one perceives, either inwardly or 
outwardly, than for what one conceives. Conceit, it 
should be remembered, was in older English usage not 
only a complimentary term, but one of the synonyms of 



imagination. The process by which the term has come 
to have its present unfavorable meaning of vain imagin- 
ing has its adequate historical explanation into which I 
need not here enter. Now to “conceive” is, in an al- 
most etymological sense, to gather things together, to 
see likenesses and analogies and in so far to unify what 
were else mere heterogeneity. The imagination, says 
Coleridge somewhat pedantically, is the “esemplastic” 
power — the power, that is, that fashions things into 
one. The passages in which Coleridge expounds this 
view of the imagination afford, perhaps, the best ex- 
ample in English of what I have called the second main 
meaning of the word. For an instance of the other 
main meaning we may turn to Addison’s papers on 
the imagination in the “Spectator.” Addison not only 
tends to reduce imagination to outer perception, but, 
encouraged by the Latin rendering of the Greek 
“fancy,” to narrow outer perception itself to visual 

If we mean by imagination not merely what we per- 
ceive, but what we conceive, it follows inevitably that 
the problem of the imagination is closely bound up with 
that of the One and the Many and therefore with the 
problem of standards; for it is impossible, let me repeat, 
to achieve standards, at least along critical lines, unless 
one can discover in life somewhere an abiding unity 
with which to measure its mere variety and change. 
Because “illusion is an integral part of reality,” we are 
not justified in assuming that every unity that the 
imagination may conceive must therefore be dismissed 
as illusory. A somewhat paradoxical person might in- 


deed affirm that, even though one did not raise directly 
the question of reality at all, it would still be possible to 
have standards; that one might measure men accurately 
enough for most practical purposes simply by the qual- 
ity of their illusions — and their disillusions. However, 
in spite of the fact that absolute unity and reality must 
ever elude us and that the absolute in general must be 
dismissed as a metaphysical dream, we may still deter- 
mine on experimental grounds to what degree any 
particular view of life is sanctioned or repudiated by the 
nature of things and rate it accordingly as more or less 
real. God, according to Synesius, communicates with 
man through the imagination. Unfortunately the devil 
communicates with him in the same way and the test of 
these communications is not, strictly speaking, in the 
imagination itself. To determine the quality of our 
imaginings, we need to supplement the power in man 
that perceives and the power that conceives with a third 
power — that which discriminates. All divisions of 
man into powers or faculties are, I am aware, more or 
less arbitrary, but, though arbitrary, they are inevitable, 
if only as instruments of thought; and the threefold 
division I am here employing will, I believe, be found 
practically one of the most helpful. 

In emphasizing the importance of the power in man 
that discriminates, I mean this power, working not 
abstractly, but on the actual material of experience. I 
may perhaps best sum up my whole point of view by 
saying that the only thing that finally counts in this 
world is a concentration, at once imaginative and dis- 
criminating, on the facts. Now the facts that one may 



perceive and on which one may concentrate are not 
only infinite in number, but of entirely different orders. 
This is one reason why material progress, so far from 
assuring moral progress, is, on the contrarj’, extremely 
difiScult to combine with it. This progress has been 
won by an almost tyrannical concentration on the 
facts of the natural law. Man’s capacity for concen- 
tration is limited, so that the price he has paid for 
material progress has been an increasing inattention to 
facts of an entirely different order — those, namely, of 
the human law. The resulting spiritual blindness has 
been an invitation to Nemesis. One may have some 
inkling of the nature of this Nemesis from the Great 
War and other similar symptoms that have been mul- 
tiplying of late in our Western societies. 

It goes without saying that the partisans of “prog- 
ress” have not admitted their spiritual blindness. They 
have accepted as valid substitutes for the traditional 
standards and the moral unity that these standards 
tended to promote certain new unifications of life that 
display great imagination, indeed, but an imagination 
that has not been sufficiently tested from the point of 
view of reality. These new schemes for unifying men 
flourished especially in connection with the so-called 
romantic movement. It is therefore no small matter 
that the leaders of this movement can be shown to have 
erected deliberately a cult of the creative imagination 
on the ruins of discrimination. Any one who takes 
seriously the creations of this type of imagination, an 
imagination that is not disciplined to either the natural 
or the human law, but is, in Young’s phrase, free to 


wander wild in its own realm of chimeras, falls into 
mere conceit or vain imagining. Conceit has always 
been the specifically human malady, but never, perhaps, 
more so than to-day. The outstanding trait of the men 
of our period may seem in retrospect to have been the 
facility with which they put forth untried conceits as 
“ideals.” We have all grown familiar with the type of 
person who is in his own conceit a lofty “idealist,” but 
when put to the test has turned out to be only a dis- 
astrous dreamer. 

Though man is governed by imagination, fortunately 
it does not follow that he must be governed by conceit. 
There remains the distinction between the mere vision- 
ary and the man of vision. This distinction acquires its 
full importance only when related to the question of 
leadership. A main purpose of my present argument is 
to show that genuine leaders, good or bad, there will 
always be, and that democracy becomes a menace to 
civilization when it seeks to evade this truth. The 
notion in particular that a substitute for leadership 
may be found in numerical majorities that are sup- 
posed to reflect the “general will” is only a pernicious 
conceit. In the long run democracy will be judged, no 
less than other forms of government, by the quality of 
its leaders, a quality that will depend in turn on the 
quality of their vision. Where there is no vision, we are 
told, the people perish; but where there is sham vision, 
they perish even faster. The worst difficulties of the 
present time arise, I am sometimes tempted to think, 
even less from lack of vision than from sham vision. 
Otherwise stated, what is disquieting about the time is 


not so much its open and avowed materialism as what 
it takes to be its spirituality. 

Among the visionaries who have usurped the credit 
that belongs only to the man of vision, Rousseau seems 
to me to have been, at least in these recent ages of the 
world, the most conspicuous. The Nature to which he 
invites us to return is only a conceit. This conceit 
encourages one to substitute for the vital control, which 
is the true voice of man’s higher self, expansive emo- 
tion. Ideally this substitution is to be marked by a 
triumph of the fraternal spirit. Actually, as I have 
sought to prove, the outcome of yielding to a mere ex- 
pansive conceit of the emotions is not fraternity, but a 
decadent imperialism. I have made a considerable use 
of the word imperialism in this work and in a some- 
what broader sense than is familiar to English and 
American readers. My justiScation lies in the fact that 
one finds behind every other form of imperialism the 
imperialism or push for power of the individual. In this 
respect, at least, I am in accord with Bergson, who de- 
clares that “imperialism is, as it were, inherent in the 
vital urge. It is at the bottom of the soul of individuals 
as well as of the soul of peoples.” ^ By his cult of elan 
vital Bergson is in the direct line of descent from Rous- 
seau. One must note, however, an important divergence 
between master and disciple that is all to the advantage 
of the latter. Bergson does not hope to base on elan 
vital a fraternity that must be sought rather in the exer- 
cise of frein vital. On the contrary, ilan vital is, he 

1 See Bergson’s introductory note to Balzac et la morale roman- 
tigue, par E. Seilli^re. 


avows frankly, imperialistic. According to the new 
Bergsonian beatitude, not the meek in spirit, but those 
who have the most vigorous vital urge are to inherit the 
earth. It is hard to overlook the affinity between this 
world-famed philosophy, as interpreted by its author, 
and the vulgar admiration for “punch.” 

My application of the epithet decadent to the type of 
imperialism that has been promoted by the glorification 
of instinct from Rousseau to Bergson calls for a word of 
comment. That there are various types of imperialism, 
even if we use the word, not in the psychological, but in 
the more familiar political sense, appears evident. For 
example, the imperialism that made the Romans masters 
of the world is not of the same kind as that which pre- 
vailed when they cringed beneath a Tiberius or a Nero. 
Yet it is possible to trace the process by which the older 
imperialism finally took on a decadent cast. The critical 
moment for Rome was the moment of triumph when the 
leaders of the State no longer felt the restraining influ- 
ence of dangerous rivals like Carthage. At the same 
time they were beginning to grow individualistic in the 
sense that they were beginning to throw off the tradi- 
tional controls. As a result of all this emancipation, 
“men’s desires,” in Montesquieu’s phrase, “became 
immense.” It has been usual to regard as the most 
significant symptom of this inordinateness the growth of 
luxury. “Luxury,” says Juvenal, “more cruel than the 
foeman’s arms, fell upon us, and is avenging the con- 
quered world.” A still graver symptom, however, was 
the appearance of leaders who were ever more and more 
ruthless in the pursuit either of their personal advantage 



or that of some class or faction. The new spirit that 
was undermining the Roman constitution manifested 
itself even less, as Cicero notes, in acts of injustice and 
cruelty to the vanquished peoples than in the rage 
of civil strife. It can scarcely be maintained of the 
Romans who thus precipitated the decadence that they 
exercised to any serious degree their frein vital, or will 
to refrain. The right opponents of these anarchical 
individualists, one may venture to affirm, were not the 
mere traditionalists, but the individualists who had 
qualified for true leadership by setting bounds to their 
expansive lusts, especially the lust of domination. 
Rome declined because she failed to produce individual- 
ists of this type in sufficient numbers. Certain analogies 
may be discovered between this Roman dilemma and 
the dilemma with which we are now confronted in 
America. We, too, seem to be reaching the acme of our 
power and are at the same time discarding the standards 
of the past. This emancipation has been accompanied 
by an extraordinary increase in luxury and self-indul- 
gence. Persons who postpone everything else to their 
“comfort” and to commercial prosperity are probably 
more numerous in America to-day than they were in 
ancient Rome. Disturbing as this symptom may be, it 
is less so than the increasing role played in our national 
life by “blocs” with highly unethical leaders — leaders 
who seek to advance the material interests of some 
special group at the expense of the whole community. 
The actual gravity of this symptom may perhaps be 
exaggerated; if it should prove, however, to be some- 
thing more than a passing phase, it portends the end of 


our constitutional liberties and the rise of a decadent 
imperialism. The more one ponders either the modern 
American or the ancient Roman situation, the more 
surely will one be led from imperialism in the political, 
to imperialism in the psychological sense. In other 
words, one will be forced, if one wishes to get at the root 
of the matter, to turn from the merely peripheral man- 
ifestations of the push for power to the inner life of the 

My views as to the relation between the Rousseau- 
istic movement and imperialism may perhaps 6e still 
further elucidated by a comparison with the views on 
the same subject of two recent European writers, the 
German, Oswald Spengler, and the Frenchman, Ernest 
SeilliSre. Spengler has developed in his chief work, 
“The Downfall of the Occident,” the thesis that the 
Western world, especially Western European “ culture,” 
is now engaged in a sort of rake’s progress that starts 
with Rousseau and his return to nature. The goal of 
this decadence, as Spengler describes it, is not unlike 
what I have termed a decadent imperialism. Moreover, 
we are not only on a descending curve, but it is a fatal 
cm-ve. He has actually appended to the first volume of 
his book a table exhibiting the degree of degeneracy 
that the Occident will have attained about the year 
2000. The whole conception not only implies a phil- 
osophy of history, but a philosophy of history that has, 
in my judgment, gone mad. This conception is based in 
any case on an utter denial of the quality of will in man 
on which I myself put supreme emphasis. In spite 
therefore of certain superficial resemblances in our re- 



spective views, Spengler and I are at the opposite poles 
of human thought. My own attitude is one of extreme 
unfriendliness to every possible philosophy of history 
(in the more technical sense of the term), whether it be 
the older type found in a Saint Augustine or a Bossuet, 
which tends to make of man the puppet of God, or the 
newer type which tends in all its varieties to make of 
man the puppet of nature. “The Downfall of the 
Occident” seems to me a fairly complete repertory of 
the naturalistic fallacies of the nineteenth century; it is 
steeped throughout in the special brand of fatalism in 
which these fallacies culminate, and as a result of which 
the Occident is actually threatened with “downfall.” 
One is justified in my opinion in dismissing Spengler as a 
charlatan, even though one be forced to add that he is a 
charlatan of genius. The immense sale of his books in 
Germany, if it is indicative of a real influence, is a de- 
pressing symptom. 

The second writer I have mentioned, M. Seillifere, 
merits a very different judgment. In about a score of 
volumes he has been tracing with great psj'chological 
finesse the influence of Rousseau on the literature and 
life of the past century. This influence he associates 
with what he calls an irrational imperialism. In short, 
the results of his survey are on the negative side very 
similar to my own. On the positive or constructive 
side, on the other hand, M. SeilliSre and I diverge 
sharply. What he opposes to an irrational imperialism 
is a rational imperialism; by which he means “the social 
army on the march towards the conquest of power by 
the coordination of individual efforts.” ^ In his general 
‘ Balzac et la morale romantique, p. 42. 


position, as revealed in such utterances, he seems to me 
to strike back through the utilitarians to Hobbes and 
ultimately, in some respects, to Machiavelli.' The es- 
sential contrast for me is not, as for M. Seilli^re, that 
between a rational and an irrational imperialism, but 
between imperialism and that quality of will in man 
which is, in every possible sense of the word, anti- 
imperialistic. M. Seilli^re, again, seems as much bent 
on running together Stoical and Christian ethics as I am 
on separating them and insisting on their final incom- 
patibility. Stoicism in both its ancient and modern 
forms I regard, at least in its total trend, as false and 
impossible; whereas I hold that at the heart of genuine 
Christianity are certain truths which have already 
once saved Western civilization and, judiciously em- 
ployed, may save it again. 

I wish also to say a few words at the outset regarding 
certain possible misapprehensions of my method. The 
most serious of these misapprehensions may arise if one 
looks either in this volume or in the previous volumes of 
the series (with the partial exception of “The Masters of 
Modem French Criticism”) for rounded estimates of 
individuals. I have not attempted such estimates. Still 
less have I attempted rounded estimates of historical 
epochs — for example, of the nineteenth century. It is 
even less sensible, perhaps, to indict a whole century 
than it is, according to Burke, to indict a whole people. 
I am attacking, not the nineteenth century in general, 
but the natmalistic nineteenth century and its prolon- 
gation into the twentieth century, along with the 
tendencies in the previoiis centuries, from the Re* 



naissance down, that prepared the way for naturalism. 
My treatment of this whole naturalistic trend haS 
seemed, even to critics who are not altogether un- 
friendly, to be negative, extreme, and one-sided. I hope 
I may be pardoned if I reply briefly to each of these 
three charges. 

As to the charge that my treatment of naturalism is 
one-sided, there is a sense, it must be admitted, in 
which it is not only one-sided, but one-sided to the last 
degree. There is, however, a humanistic intention even 
in the one-sidedness. I dwell persistently on the aspect 
of human nature that the naturalists have no less per- 
sistently neglected in the hope that the way may thus be 
opened for a more balanced view. Moreover, what the 
naturalists have neglected is not something that is on 
the fringe or outer rim of human experience, but some- 
thing, on the contrary, that is very central. The nat- 
uralistic effort during the past century or more has 
resulted in an immense and bewildering peripheral en- 
richment of life — in short, in what we are still glorify- 
ing under the name of progress. I have no quarrel with 
this type of progress in itself, I merely maintain that no 
amount of peripheral enrichment of life can atone for 
any lack at the centre. Furthermore, though I assail the 
naturalists for what seems to me a vital oversight, I 
have, let me repeat, at least one trait in common with 
them — I desire to be experimental. I seek to follow 
out the actual consequences of this oversight, to deal 
with it, not abstractly, but in its fruits. If certain 
readers have persisted in seeing in my books something 
that I myself have not sought to put there, namely, 


rounded estimates of individuals and historic epochs, 
the misapprehension has no doubt arisen from the very 
abundance of my concrete illustrations. 

As to the charge that I am negative, I have already 
said that the element in man that has been overlooked 
by naturalistic psychology is felt in relation to his ordi- 
nary self negatively. If instead of taking the point of 
view of one’s ordinary self, one heeds the admonitions of 
the inner monitor, the result is two of the most positive 
of all things: character and happiness. This is the great 
paradox of life itself. For being negative in this sense 
I am not in the least apologetic. There is, however, 
another sense in which I may seem negative and about 
this I feel somewhat differently. The type of criticism 
that prevailed about the beginning of the nineteenth 
century proposed to substitute the “fruitful criticism of 
beauties for the barren criticism of faults.” I may be 
accused of reversing too sharply this maxim even by 
some who admit that the proper remedy for the lax ap- 
preciativeness of the modem movement is a criticism 
that displays a tonic astringency. I am constantly call- 
ing attention to the defects of certain eminent personal- 
ities, it may be urged, and at the same time have little 
or nothing to say of their virtues. My method is even 
in this respect, I believe, legitimate, provided that it be 
properly understood, though I myself cannot help re- 
gretting that it should make me appear so constantly 

The charge that I am extreme touches me even more 
nearly than the charge that I am negative and one-sided ; 
for I aim to be a humanist and the essence of humanism 



is moderation. There is, however, much confusion on 
the subject of moderation. A man’s moderation is 
measured by his success in mediating between some 
sound general principle and the inhnitely various and 
shifting circumstances of actual life. The man who is 
thus rightly mediatory attains to one of the most 
precious of virtues — urbanity; though one must add 
that probably no virtue has been more frequently coun- 
terfeited. When an intellectually and spiritually in- 
dolent person has to choose between two conflicting 
views he often decides to “split the difference” between 
them; but he may be splitting the difference between 
truth and error, or between two errors. In any case, he 
must dispose of the question of truth or error before he 
can properly begin to mediate at all. Otherwise he will 
run the risk of resembling the English statesman of whom 
it was said that he never deviated from the straight 
and narrow path between right and wrong. Some of 
the casuists whom Pascal attacked had managed to 
assume a moderate attitude towards murder! One may 
fancy oneself mbane when in reality one is in danger of 
being numbered with the immense multitude that Dante 
saw in the vestibule of Hell — the multitude of those 
who are equally “displeasing to God and to the enemies 
of God.” To be sure, it is not always easy in any par- 
ticular instance to distinguish between the humanist 
and the mere Laodicean. Thus Luther denoimced 
Erasmus as a Laodicean, whereas to us he seems rather 
to have shown real poise and urbanity in his dealings 
with the religious and other extremists of his time. 

At all events the differences of doctrine I debate in 


the following pages are of a primary nature and so not 
subject to mediation. Between the man who puts his 
main emphasis on the inner life of the individual and 
the man who puts this emphasis on something else — 
for example, the progress and service of humanity — 
the opposition is one of first principles. The question I 
raise, therefore, is not whether one should be a moderate 
humanitarian, but whether one should be a humani- 
tarian at all. In general I commit myself to the posi- 
tion that we are living in a world that in certain im- 
portant respects has gone wrong on first principles; 
which will be found to be only another way of saying 
that we are living in a world that has been betrayed by 
its leaders. On the appearance of leaders who have re- 
covered in some form the truths of the inner life and re- 
pudiated the errors of naturalism may depend the very 
survival of Western civilization. The truths of the inner 
life may be proclaimed in various forms, religious and 
humanistic, and have actually been so proclaimed in the 
past and justified in each case by their fruits in life and 
conduct. It is because I am unable to discover these 
truths in any form in the philosophies now fashionable 
that I have been led to prefer to the wisdom of the age 
the wisdom of the ages. 



According to Aristotle, a government, if it is to endure, 
must reflect the ethos or body of moral habits and beliefs 
of the governed. There is no abstract and ideal political 
form, as the French Jacobins inclined to believe, that 
may be imposed to advantage on all communities. If we 
attempt to apply the Aristotelian principle of the neces- 
sary relation between the government of any particular 
community and its ethos to the governments that have 
actually existed in the past, our first impression is of an 
endless diversity in political forms as in everything else. 
But if we penetrate beneath this bewildering surface 
variety, we shall discover, as I have tried to show else- 
where, that human experience falls, after all, into a few 
fairly distinct categories. The view of life that prevails 
at any particular time or among any particular people 
will be found, on close inspection, to be either predomi- 
nantly naturalistic, or humanistic, or religious; and it will 
also be found that political forms tend to vary accord- 

If, for example, a people is deeply religious, a govern- 
ment with a more or less strongly marked theocratic 
element is probable. Fustel de Coulanges has shown how 
closely allied the government of the ancient city-state 
was at the outset with traditional religious forms, and 
then how government tended to change when the hier- 
archy that traditional religion had established, first of 


all in the family and then in the State, was gradually un- 
dermined by individualistic and equalitarian tendencies. 
The yielding of religious control to an anarchical natu- 
ralism led in the political order to the triumph of naked 
force and to the decline of ancient civilization. As 
Christianity prevailed over this effete paganism, a new 
religious ethos gradually took shape and, corresponding 
to it, arose a theocratic conception of government that 
was to prevail throughout the mediseval period. During 
that period Europe enjoyed, in theory and to no small 
extent in practice, a genuine religious communion. The 
Church had succeeded in creating symbols that in a very 
literal sense held sway over men’s imagination and 
united them from the top to the bottom of society in the 
same spiritual hopes and fears. Every one might, as 
Villon relates of his aged mother, enter the great cathe- 
dral and see depicted on one hand the torments of the 
damned and on the other the bliss of paradise, and, like 
her, he would normally be filled by the former images 
with fear and by the latter with joy and gladness. As a 
result of this imaginative control exercised over all 
classes the Church did not need the support of physical 
force: purely spiritual penalties, especially exconomimi- 
cation, sufficed. Henry IV at Canossa is usually taken 
to typify the extreme triumph of the theocratic idea. 

The Church is no negligible factor even to-day. When 
Cardinal Mercier visited America, it was reported in the 
press that engineers and firemen knelt on the platform 
of the Pennsylvania Railway Station in New York to 
receive his blessing. Here is at least some survival of the 
older loyalty, a loyalty utterly different in essence from 


that of these same men to their unions. Still, if one com- 
pare the power of the Church to-day with its power in 
the Middle Ages, one becomes aware of a change in the 
ethos, not of this or that country merely, but of the 
whole of the Occident. The older rehgious control has 
been giving way for several centuries past to individual- 
istic and centrifugal tendencies, and the danger is now 
manifest that in the absence of any new integrating 
element, what may triumph in our modern world, as it 
finally triumphed in the ancient world, is the principle 
of naked force. 

The theocratic conception of government always im- 
plies a divine grace or sanction somewhere; but as to the 
channel through which this grace is received important 
differences of opinion are possible. In the Middle Ages, 
for example, some held that the only channel of grace 
was the Church and so tended to subordinate the Em- 
peror, the head of the temporal order, to God’s vicar 
upon earth, the Pope. Others maintained that the Em- 
peror derived his sanction, not through the Pope, but 
immediately from on high. This latter form of the theo- 
cratic conception is best set forth, perhaps, in Dante’s 
“De Monarchia.” Dante desires cooperation and ulti- 
mate unity of the two powers, secular and spiritual, but 
without confusion. 

Dante and other political theorists of the Middle Ages 
who accepted the theocratic idea, but wished at the same 
time to keep separate the things of God and the things 
of Caesar, showed themselves in so far true Christians. 
We need to remember, however, how much in the Chris- 
tian tradition itself goes back ultimately, not to Judaea, 


but to Greece and Rome. There is no small element 
of truth in the common assertion that Saint Augustine 
is the Christian Plato and Saint Thomas Aquinas the 
Christian Aristotle. Yet we need to emphasize at this 
point certain important differences between the Platonic 
and Aristotelian type of political thinking and the type 
that prevailed during the medieval period. In a certain 
sense, Aristotle and Plato are in their true spirit nearer 
to us than to the men of the Middle Ages. The mediae- 
val view of life rests on a belief in a supernatural revela- 
tion. This in turn is made the basis of an absolute outer 
authority; whereas Plato and Aristotle belong.^s T.hav e 
said, to an age of free critfcallnquiry. They are, in 
short, true '^modems.” For, as I have tried to show 
elsewhere, to be critical and individualistic in one’s out^ 
look on life and to be modem come to very much the 
same thing. In seeking to make of Aristotle a prop of 
outer authority, Saint Thomas and other men of the 
Middle Ages were therefore using Aristotle in a very im- 
Aristotelian way; and the confusion continued when the 
men of the Renaissance, on breaking with tradition in 
favor of a more individualistic and experimental atti- 
tude, inclined to repudiate Aristotle as the chief source 
of the scholastic logomachy. Bacon, for example, practi- 
cally never gets behind the scholastic Aristotle to the 
real Aristotle. , 

Plato,_then, differs from the mediaeval thinkers in 
dealing critically 'wfh the political problem in the “'Re- 
public” jind.£lsewhere,. He arrives, however, at a con- 
ception that is on the whole theocratic; so that if one 
looks, not to the method, but to the conclusions, one is 


forced to agree in part with those who assert that the 
Middle Ages already begin in Plato. Add the all-impor- 
tant distinction between the things of God and the things 
of Cffisar and the class of Guardians in the “Republic" 
would work out into something very similar to a monas- 
tic order. It is hard, again, not to see in the Nocturnal 
Council and the House of Reformation of the “Laws" 
a first adumbration of the Inquisition. In general Pla- 
to’s growing sense of the dependence of man on God 
foreshadows Augustine and the reign of grace. Aristotle, 
on the other hand, remains the chief example in the past 
of a thinker who has treated in a way at once critical and 
humanistic the problems of government. Before writing 
his “Politics," he had made detailed studies of the his- 
tory and constitutions of one hundred and fifty-eight 
city-states, and in general rests his conclusions upon a 
great body of actual political experience. One may dis- 
agree with these conclusions — I disagree with them in 
essential particulars — but the method itself for any one 
who aspires to be modem would seem to be impeccable. 
Even when we differ from Aristotle, we should differ 
from him on Aristotelian grounds. We have been en- 
lightened concerning certain problems by an enormous 
mass of experience in both the East and the West that 
he did not have at his command. We have been enlight- 
ened by the Christian experience above all and the great 
new principle it brought into the Occident, namely, the 
separation of the temporal and spiritual powers, and all 
the consequences that flow from this principle either 
directly or indirectly, especially the idea of individual 
liberty that ultimately rests on this^Iitinction, and of 


which neither Aristotle nor Pl ato has any adequate 
c oncep tion. 

We have been enlightened since the time of Aristotle 
not merely by the Christian experience; we also have 
more or less available an enormous mass of experience 
unknown until recently to the Occident — that of the 
Far East, especially India and China. Here again we 
find political institutions that reflect views of life that 
are predominantly either naturalistic, humanistic, or 
religious. Perhaps no country has ever been more reli- 
gious than India. India has always been the home of 
religion, good, bad, or indifferent; and so one is not sur- 
prised to find the theocratic view of fife set forth more 
uncompromisingly perhaps than in any other book of 
the world in the “Laws of Manu.” The precepts of this 
work have probably never been applied in their full 
rigor, but they have always been of great aid to the 
Brahmin caste in maintaining what would seem to us a 
veritable spiritual tyranny. In controlling men by an 
appeal to their religious hopes and fears without any 
need of physical compulsion, the Brahmin caste has per- 
haps been even more successful, and that down to our 
own day, than the Church of mediseval Europe. It has 
been alleged that the Montagu Act (1919), designed to 
give a greater measure of self-government to the Hindus, 
would in practice simply play into the hands of the 
Brahmin theocracy. 

^./Buddhism, another product of ancient India, is inter- 
esting from the point of view of our present topic for 
two reasons; first, because Buddha, even more perhaps 
than Plato or Socrates, worked out a positive and criti- 


cal view of life; secondly, because he displayed this posi- 
tive and critical spirit in the field of religion. His king- 
dom, like that of Jesus, and unlike that of Plato, is not of 
this world. He does not seek, like the Plato of the “ Re- 
public,” to achieve ideal good in the secular order and 
with the aid of political institutions. Buddha did not 
set out to reform society directly, but established a reli- 
gious order in which caste and other like distinctions did 
not exist. Later Buddhism, especially Buddhism of the 
so-called Great Vehicle, is a vast and complex move- 
ment that departs widely from the positive and critical 
spirit of the founder. Lamaism, the very corrupt form 
of the doctrine that prevails in Tibet, marks an extreme 
of theocratic interference with the secular order. In a 
country like Burma, where something of the older and 
more individualistic form of the faith still survives, the 
distinction between spiritual and temporal is fairly well 
maintained. In general the rival pretensions of Church 
and State have led to less frequent and less serious polit- 
ical clashes in Buddhist than in Christian lands. It is, 
indeed, this aspect of Christianity that more than any 
other seems to justify Christ’s saying that he brought 
not peace, but a sword. 

India has never seen an important humanistic move- 
ment. The nearest approach to it, perhaps, is the doc- 
trine of the middle path that Buddha proclaimed in the 
religious life itself. It is difficult to imagine a more com- 
plete contrast in this respect than that between India 
and China, which in its central tradition, of which Con- 
fucius is the chief exponent, has always been humanistic. 
The bathing ghats at Benares suggest something almost 


as remote from ordinary Chinese psychology as from our 
own. Confucius is less concerned with the other world 
than with the art of living to the best advantage in this. 
To live to the best advantage in this world is, he holds, 
to live proportionately and moderately; so that the Con- 
fucian tradition of the Far East has much in common 
with the Aristotelian tradition of the Occident. In one 
important respect, however, Confucius recalls not Aris- 
totle, but Christ. Though his kingdom is very much of 
this world, he puts emphasis not merely on the law of 
measine, but also on the law of humility. He was hum- 
ble both in his “submission to the will of Heaven” and 
in his attitude towards the sages of old. He aspired at 
most to be the channel through which the moral experi- 
ence of his race that had accumulated through long cen- 
turies and found living embodiment in these sages should 
be conveyed to the present and the future; in his own 
words, he was not a creator but a transmitter. A^gaan 
who looks up to the great traditional models and imi- 
tates them, becomes worthy of imitation in his turn. He 
must be thus rightly imitative if he is to be a true leader. 
No one has ever insisted more than Confucius on a right 
example and the imitation that it inspires as the neces- 
sary basis of civilized society. This insistence would 
seem justified by the force of his own example which has 
moulded, for seventy generations or more, the ethos of 
about a fourth of the human race — and that with little 
or no appeal to the principle of fear either in this world 
or the next. The Confucian influence seems, indeed, to 
offer more warrant than anything in our Occidental 
experience for the belief that man may after all be a 
xeasonable animal. 


In dealing with the political problem, Confucius is 
inevitably led to brush aside, as of slight account, every- 
thing except the question of leadership. “The virtue of 
the leader,” he says, “is like unto wind; that of the peo- 
ple like unto grass. For it is the nature of grass to bend 
when the wind blows upon it.” * Now the true leader is 
the man of character, and the ultimate root of character 
is humility. This Confucian conception has such a cen- 
tral soundness that I shall need to return to it later. At 
the same time, Confucianism, like all great doctrines, 
has its characteristic weaknesses. The chief of these, we 
scarcely need to be reminded, is that the present seems 
to be held in a perpetual spiritual mortmain by the past. 
A purely traditional humanism is always in danger of 
falling into a rut of pseudo-classic formalism. Confu- 
cius himself had a deep and genuine perception of what 
is specifically human in man which he defines as a prin- 
ciple of inner control; this principle, however, at least if 
we accept as ancient and authentic all that is in the 
“Li-Ki” or Book of Rites, is from the start too much as- 
sociated with outer forms and, at times, with the rules of 
etiquette. Some of the prescriptions are not much 
more closely related to the decorum which is at the 
centre of every truly humanistic doctrine than the in- 
formation, which has also been piously handed down 
to us, that Confucius ate ginger at every meal, and that 
he always changed countenance in a thunderstorm. We 
desire a spirit that is more free, flexible, and imagina- 

* Cf. Aristotle, Politics, 1273a: “ Whenever the chiefs of the 
state deem anything honorable, the other citizens are sure to 
follow their example.” 


tive, such as is found in Greek humanism at its best. 
We are also likely to feel something more modem and, 
therefore, more congenial to us in the highly untradi- 
tional and individualistic Buddha. Still Confucius, 
though traditional, is not dogmatic; he is not even sys- 
tematic. His extreme reticence about ultimate things 
that so irritated his translator, the Christian dogmatist. 
Dr. Legge, seems, now that we are coming more and 
more to appreciate the psychological method of dealing 
with certain problems, a merit rather than a defect. As a 
result of all that is summed up in Confucianism, China 
has, perhaps, in spite of all its corrapt mandarins and 
officials of the past and present, planted itself more con- 
sistently than any other country on moral ideas, and this 
fact is not unrelated to its long survival. The Greeks 
have disappeared; for the Greeks of to-day can be re- 
garded only in a very qualified sense as the descendants 
of the Greeks of the age of Pericles; whereas the de- 
scendants of the Chinese of the age of Confucius are 
still with us to the number of several hundred millions. 
Their civilization has numerous and grave peripheral 
faults. At the same time, it is likely to have a secret 
strength as long as the Chinese refuse to “drop their 
pilot,” as long as they hold fast, in other words, in spite 
of pressure from the West, to what is best in the Confu- 
cian tradition. 

I have been considering thus far, in both East and 
West, various religious and humanistic views of life, 
whether on a traditional or a positive and critical basis, 
and the corresponding types of political thinking. It re- 
mains to consider the &turalistic view of life and its 


political implications. The naturalist no longer looks on 
man as subject to a law of his own distinct from that 
of the material order — a law, the acceptance of which 
leads, on the religious level, to the miracles of other- 
worldliness that one finds in Christians and Buddhists 
at their best, and the acceptance of which, in this world, 
leads to the subduing of the ordinary self and its spon- 
taneous impulses to the law of measure that one finds 
in Confucianists and Aristotelians. The rise of the indi- 
vidualistic and critical spirit and the resulting break 
with the mediaeval and theocratic ideal, from the Renais- 
sance on, might have assumed a religious or humanistic 
character; it has actually been in the main naturalistic. 
One important outcome of this naturalistic trend has 
been the growth of the national spirit. The Protestant 
religion itself, if one takes a sufficiently long-range view, 
appears largely as an incident in the rise of nationalism. 
If one wishes, however, to study, in its purest form, the 
new nationalistic spirit that was destined finally to de- 
stroy the religious um’ty of medieval Europe, one needs 
to tmn to Machiavelli. He will probably remain the 
best type in either East or West of the unflinching politi- 
cal naturalist. To understand Machiavelli, one needs to 
study him in his relation to traditional religion. Chris- 
tianity, especially in its Pauline and Augustinian forms, 
has always tended to oppose a stark supematuralism to 
a stark naturalism; so that when an austere Christian, 
such as Pascal, considers man in his fallen estate, man 
unsupported by divine grace, he quickly arrives at con- 
clusions regarding the secular order and its pohtical 
problems that are, if possible, more Machiavellian than 


those of Machiavelli himself. One seems to have no ah 
temative except to get rid of ethics in getting rid of 
th^ogy. Moreover, the Chtirch, as an actual institu- 
tion, had such a monopoly of the higher life of man that 
to seek, like Machiavelli, to give the State a basis inde- 
pendent of the Church was to run the risk of giving it a 
basis independent of morality. Furthermore, Machia- 
velli was, within certain limits, an extraordinarily 
shrewd observer. His views reflect the failure of Chris- 
tianity to control men’s actual deeds, either in his own 
time or in the mediaeval past with which he was familiar. 
His intention, as he proclaims it, is “to follow up the real 
truth of a matter rather than the imagination of it, . . . 
because how one lives is so far distant from how one 
ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what 
ought to be done sooner effects his ruin than his preser- 
vation.” * The statesman should, therefore, be sternly 
realistic. As a matter of fact, any one who neglects men’s 
ideals and fine phrases and attends solely to their actual 
performance is always likely to seem a bit Machiavel- 
lian. There is, for example, a strong Machiavellian ele- 
ment in this sense in Thucydides. 

The conclusions to which Machiavelli was led by his 
special type of realism are familiar. The rules of ordi- 
nary morality may hold in the relations between man 
and man, but have only a secondary place in the rela- 
tions between state and state; what prevails in these lat- 
ter relations is the law of cunning and the law of force. 
The ruler who wishes to succeed should, therefore, blend 
harmoniously in himself the virtues of the lion and the 
* The Prince, ch. xv. 


fox.* The true essence of any doctrine is revealed finally 
in the kind of personality in which it becomes incarnate. 
Machiavelli, as is well known, saw the perfect incarna- 
tion of his own conception in C£Dsar Borgia. He relates, 
in one place, the detestable treachery by which Borgia 
trapped and then had strangled several of his political 
enemies, and then says elsewhere: “When all the ac- 
tions of the duke are recalled, I do not know how to 
blame him, but rather it appears to me, as I have said, 
that I ought to offer him for imitation to all those who, 
by fortune or the arms of others, are raised to govern- 
ment.” ® One should mark especially the meaning that 
Machiavelli attaches to the word virtue. He begins an 
account of the mediaeval tyrant, Castruccio Castricani, 
in which the main traits that emerge are ruthlessness and 
cruelty, by praise of his “virtue.” The virtue of the 
Machiavellian political leader plainly has very little in 
coi^oh with humanistic virt^ and nothing at aU with 
religious virtue. Christian virtue m~p*articular has its 
foundatiOtriirtM law of humility. The man who takes 
on the yoke of this law enters, at the same time, into a 
realm of free conscience; he has ceased to be subject to 
any mundane state and has become a member of a heav- 
enly commonwealth or City of God. This divided alle- 
giance seemed to Machiavelli a source of weakness and 
effeminacy. Humility should give way to patriotic pride. 
The ruler above all should have no conscience apart 
from the State and its material aggrandizement. Any 
one who consents to become a passive instrument in the 
service of any corporation, political, commercial, or re- 
* The Prince, ch. DX. * Ihid., ch. vn. 


ligious, to the point of practising a morality different 
from that which should rule the individual, is in the 
Machiavellian tradition. Machiavelli is the “ancestor 
of the German who puts the fatherland “over all,” and 
of his equivalent the one hundred per cent American, 
and in general of those who are so patriotic that they 
are ready to back their country right or wrong. He em- 
bodies, more completely than any one else, what is 
usually defined as the realistic tradition in European 
politics. Yet one cannot grant that either Machiavelli 
or his spiritual descendants, the Realpolitiker, are thor- 
oughgoing realists. The Nemesis, or divine judgment, 
or whatever one may term it, that sooner or later over- 
takes those who transgress the moral law, is not some- 
thing that one has to take on authority, either Greek or 
Hebraic ; it is a matter of keen observation. Without as- 
serting that there is no such thing as reason of state and 
that pubhc and private morality should coincide pre- 
cisely at all points, nevertheless, one may affirm that 
is chimerical to set up a dual code in the Machiavel- 
lian sense, to suppose that men can, as a rule, be ruth- 
less in the service of country and at the same time up- 
^right as individuals. To be merely a naturalistic realist, 
m combine, that is, a clear perception of the facts of the 
material order with spiritual blindness, leads practically 
to imperialistic dreaming. Machiavelli relates how at 
the time he was composing “The Prince” he was wont, 
after a day spent in petty occupations on his small prop- 
erty at San Casciano, to pull off his peasant clothes and 
don court attire in the evening, and then, retiring into 
his study, escape from the trivialities of the present to 


two men is related to Pascal’s distinction between the 
geometrical spirit and the spirit of finesse. Hobbes’s 
extreme confidence in reasoning of the abstract or geo- 
metrical type {la raison raisonnante) strikes one as 
rather im-English, but in other respects he belongs to 
the great English utilitarian tradition, and points the 
way to Locke, who is hims elf, in essential respects, a 
dogmatic rationalist. For a striking fact about the Eng- 
lish utilitarian is that, while professing to appeal from 
mere theory to experience, he repudiates that whole side 
of experience that belongs to the realm of the human 
law. Wishing to be thoroughly positive and critical, he 
inclines to identify this experience with the traditional 
forms in which it had become embedded and so to reject 
it as mere myth and fable; and herein he is at one with 
the traditionalists themselves who do not admit that the 
truths of the human law can be disengaged from certain 
special forms and, like the truths of the natural law, 
dealt with in a purely critical fashion. As I have tried 
to show elsewhere, the positivists have failed signally 
thus far to live up to their own programme. Hobbes, for 
example, opposes to the dogmas and metaphysical as- 
sumptions of the traditionalists other assumptions that 
are almost equally metaphysical. One needs to consider 
what some of these sissumptions are, for, in one shape or 
other, they have pervaded most political thinking from 
the time of Hobbes to our own day, even the thinking 
of those who at first sight seem most opposed to him. 

One may take as the first of these metaphysical as- 
sumptions the conception of absolute and unlimited 
sovereignty. When anything absolute is set up, we may 


know that we are running into metaphysics; for precise 
observation of life does not give anything absolute. The 
only thing that approaches the absolute in man is 
his ignorance, and even that is not quite absolute. 
Hobbes’s assertion of absolute and unlim ited sovereignty 
recalls the mediseval notion of sovereignty with a most 
important difference; it rests upon force and is in this 
sense imperialistic; it does not, like the sovereignty of 
the Middle Ages, have a supernatural sanction. For the 
mediseval sovereign, whether Pope or Emperor, if not 
responsible to the people, is responsible to God, who is, 
finally, fhe only absolute and unlimited ruler. Further- 
more, the individual in the State of Hobbes has no 
refuge from its despotic control in religion, or, what 
amounts to the same thing, in a domain of conscience 
set apart from the secular order. Hobbes subordinates 
the spiritual to the temporal, and, in his dealing with 
the rival claims of Church and State, is, like Machia- 
velli, not only unmediseval but un-Christian. 

Whence, one may inquire, does the sovereign of 
Hobbes derive a power so unlimited and irresponsible 
as to be subversive not only of liberty in the temporal 
order, but also of the “liberty wherewith Christ hath 
made us free.” The reply is that the sovereign holds his 
unlimited and irresponsible power, not by the grace of 
God, but as a result of a contract with the people; and 
here emerges another metaphysical assumption, that of 
the social contract, which dominated to an extraordinary 
degree the political thinking of several generations. 
This involves, in some form or other, the assumption of 
a state of natme, in which man is isolated and unsocial, 


in opposition to a state of society where men escape 
from their isolation on the basis of a convention or con- 
tract. Just as Machiavelli is infinitely below Aristotle 
in setting up two codes of morality, one for the State 
and one for the individual, so Hobbes marks a great 
retrogression from Aristotle in accepting this mythical 
contrast between man in society and man as he is natu- 
rally. According to Aristotle, it is natural for man, being 
as he is a political animal, to live in society. Hobbes, 
also, as we have just seen, by running together the things 
of God and the things of Caesar, compromises the chief 
advance in political thinking that has been made since 
Aristotle. As a whole, his work may be described as an 
attempt to justify metaphysically what would result 
practically in a violent materialism. 

To the social contract, unlimited sovereignty, and the 
state of nature, we need to add natural rights if we wish 
to complete the list of abstract and metaphysical con- 
ceptions that have dominated so much modern political 
thinking. The rights that man possesses in the “state of 
nature” would not seem very valuable, since his life in 
this state, as conceived by Hobbes, is “solitary, poor, 
nasty, brutish, and short”; and since, as a result of the 
dominance of self-love, every one is at war with every 
one else (bellum omnium contra omnes). From the point 
of view of theory, it is, however, important that man has 
in the state of nature unlimited liberty, in the sense that 
he has unlimited sovereignty over his own person, and 
can, therefore, transfer by the social contract this un- 
limited sovereignty to the State. Men also tend to be 
equal in the natural state, since the physically weak may, 


according to Hobbes, develop a cunning that will in the 
conflict of egoisms put them more or less on a level with 
the strong. The state of nature according to Hobbes 
may, then, be defined as liberty, equality — and war. 

Natural rights and the freedom and equality that are 
supposed to be based upon them become increasingly 
important with the tendency that appears about the 
time of Hobbes to interpret more optimistically the 
state of nature. The origins of this tendency are com- 
plex. Perhaps the most important single influence was 
the revival of Stoical philosophy and the Stoical views 
regarding jus naiurale and jus geniium that had been in- 
corporated in Roman law. The underlying driving 
power behind the “return to nature” from the Renais- 
sance down was the rise of the new astronomy and the 
growing triumphs of physical science. The success of 
the great revolt on naturalistic Imes against the Chris- 
tian and mediaeval dualism was due even less perhaps to 
scientific discovery, and to the type of progress that re- 
sulted, than to the positive and critical method by 
which the progress and the discoveries had been 
achieved, a method that was in direct conflict with the 
dogmatic and uncritical affirmations of the traditional- 
ists. In the political theorists of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, the naturalistic and Stoical ele- 
ments are combined in almost every conceivable propor- 
tion with elements that derive from the traditional su- 
pematuralism. A mixture of this kind is especially 
evident in the “De Jure belli et pacis” (1625) of Grotius, 
the father of international law. The great nationalities, 
that were arising with the breakdown of mediaeval 


theocracy, were plainly in a state of nature as regards 
one another, so that it was even more important to de- 
termine, in the case of the nation than in the case of the 
individual, whether there can prevail in the state of 
nature any other law than the law of cunning and the 
law of force. If one is to refute MachiaveUi and Hobbes, 
one must show that there is some universal principle 
that tends to unite men even across national frontiers, a 
principle that continues to act even when their egoistic 
impulses are no longer controlled by the laws of some 
particular state supported by its organized force. 
Whether one starts with a state of nature in which men 
are conceived as mere isolated units, and then imagines 
a contract of some kind by which they pass from a state 
of nature into society, or whether one asserts with Aris- 
totle that man is a political animal, and that it is, there- 
fore, natural for him to live in society, one needs in 
either case to define with some care the principle of co- 
hesion among men. According to the true Christian, the 
final counterpoise to egoism, in virtue of which alone 
men may be drawn to a common centre, is submission 
to the will of God, a submission that is conceived in 
terms of the inner life. The attempt to find a bond of 
union among men in a “rule of reason,” and the associa- 
tion of this rule of reason with nature, is, strictly speak- 
ing, not Christian, but Stoical. It is as natural for a man 
to serve other men, says Marcus Aurelius in his exposi- 
tion of Stoical “reason,” as it is for the eye to see. This 
doctrine of service, which the Stoic deems at once ra- 
tional and natural, does not involve the inner life in the 
Christian sense. The final appeal is to something out- 


side the individual — namely, to what Cicero, a main 
source of Stoical influence upon the modern world, calls 
the “common utility” (utilitas communis). The com- 
munity that one serves may again, according to Cicero, 
be either one’s coimtry or mankind at large {sodetas 
generis kumani). Stoical utilitarianism is in general 
highly rationalistic. English utilitarianism, on the other 
hand (and England is the chief source of utilitarian doc- 
trine in modern times), puts far greater emphasis on the 
principle of pleasure, and in general on the instinctive 
side of man, an emphasis that is less Stoical than 
Epicmean. Cumberland, for example, seeks to refute 
Hobbes not merely by an appeal to right reason, but 
by asserting the presence in man of an instinct to pro- 
mote the common good; thus to serve the community, 
says Cumberland, combining the new utilitarian con- 
ception with the older theology, is to fulfil the will of God. 

One finds, however, in writers like Cumberland only 
the beginnings of the transformation in the very basis of 
ethics that has taken place in connection with the great 
movement, partly utilitarian, partly sentimental, that 
I have defined in its totality as humanitarianism. What 
is singular about the representatives of this movement 
is that they wish to live on the naturalistic level, and at 
the same time to enjoy the benefits that the past had 
hoped to achieve as a result of some humanistic or reli- 
gious discipline. They have contradicted religion by 
asserting in substance that man, in order to rise above 
his selfish impulses, does not need conversion and the 
system of supernatural sanctions on which conversion 
has traditionally rested. They have also sought to refute 


the egoistic naturalists of the type of Maohiavelli and 
Hobbes, who have maintained that the most funda- 
mental impulse in man is the push for power. The rise of 
emotional ethics may be studied, especially in the Eng- 
land of the early eighteenth centmy, in connection with 
the deistic movement. The trend of deistic moralists 
like Shaftesbury and Hutcheson is all towards what we 
should call, nowadays, altruism and social service. 
With the decline of the doctrine of total depravity, the 
age of theology is beginning to give way to the age of 
sociology. The word beneficence gains currency about 
this time. The sympathetic man, the good-natured man, 
the man of feeling are emerging and are being held in 
ever-increasing estimation. 

Those who believed in the intrinsic evil of human na- 
ture on either theological or naturalistic grounds were 
still numerous and aggressive. The divergent views con- 
cerning the goodness or badness of human nature were 
combined in almost every conceivable proportion in dif- 
ferent individuals. They were so combined in Pope and 
Voltaire, for example, as to introduce into their writings 
a central incoherency. A curious attempt to combine 
the new expansiveness with an attack on the school of 
Shaftesbury and an affirmation of the egoistic element 
in man that reminds one of Hobbes and La Rochefou- 
cauld and Machiavelh, is found in Mandeville’s “Fable 
of the Bees.” With the growth of the new philosophy, 
man was encouraged to indulge more freely his natural 
desires. At the same time, scientific discovery was mak- 
ing increasingly possible the satisfaction of these desires. 
It was gradually developing a vast machinery designed 


to minister to man's material comfort and convenience 
and destined to culminate in the industrial revolution. 
Mandeville warned the English, who were entering an 
era of commercial and imperialistic expansion, that this 
expansion, with its concomitant growth of luxury, would, 
so far as the individual is concerned, be an expansion of 
vice and selfishness. The Stoical notion that mere “rea- 
son" can control the selfish passions, he refutes. The 
assertion of Shaftesbury that there inheres in the na- 
tural man a “moral sense” or will to serve, that can pre- 
vail over the will to power, or instinct of sovereignty, as 
he terms it, he dismisses as “romantic and chimerical.” 
He recommends ironically as a remedy a return to the 
Golden Age and its diet of acorns. The true remedy, he 
professes to believe, is the most austere Christianity and 
its renunciation of the lusts of the flesh. The real sting 
of his argument, however, is in the new turn that he 
gives to the Machiavellian idea of the double standard. 
The multiplication of wants, which is bad, considered 
from the point of view of the individual, may, if properly 
directed by government, make for the greatness of the 
State. Private vices are public benefits; 

Thus every part was full of vice. 

Yet the whole mass a paradise. 


Employ’d a million of the poor, 

And odious pride a million more; 

Envy itself and vanity. 

Were ministers of industry. 

Mandeville concludes: 

Fools only strive 
To make a great an honest hive. 


In Shaftesbury and Mandeville, we see clearly re- 
vealed, for perhaps the first time, the opposition be- 
tween the romantic idealist and the Machiavellian 
realist. Much of Shaftesbury’s doctrine stands in close 
relation to that of the ancient Stoics, notably Marcus 
Aurelius and Epictetus, so that there is truth in Mande- 
ville’s accusation that Shaftesbury “endeavored to 
establish heathen virtue on the ruins of Christianity.” 
Shaftesbury, for example, does not go beyond Stoicism 
when he hopes, in Mandeville’s phrase, to “govern him- 
self by his reason with as much ease and readiness as a 
good rider manages a well taught horse by the bridle.” 
But Mandeville is not entirely wrong in discovering in 
Shaftesbury a flattery of human nature beyond what 
the Stoics or other pagan moralists ever attempted. 
“He imagines that men without any trouble or violence 
upon themselves may be naturally virtuous. He seems 
to expect and require goodness in his species as we do a 
sweet taste in grapes and China oranges.” On the basis 
of this natural goodness which displays itself in an in- 
stinctive affection of man for his own species, Shaftes- 
bury was the first “to maintain virtue without self- 
denial.” The word sympathy first became current 
largely as a result of its use by the Greek Stoics, but 
there is a wide gap between Stoical sympathy and the 
incipient sentimentalism of a Shaftesbury. So far from 
encouraging emotional effusion, the Stoic aimed at 
“apathy,” and in his more austere moments would 
have us serve men, but refrain from pitying them.* 
The moral aestheticism that is beginning to appear in 
* See Seneca, d* Clem., ii, 4-6. 


Shaftesbuiy, though it has no strict parallel in classical 
antiquity, is Epicurean rather than Stoical. The more 
advanced type of sentimentalist has, in order to display 
his "virtue,” merely to palpitate deliciously.* As a mat- 
ter of fact, the love or sympathy on which the romantic 
idealist puts so much emphasis is, as I shall try to show 
later, a subrational parody of Christian charity. 

The moral sense of Shaftesbury and his disciple 
Hutcheson was developed by Hume and Adam Smith 
and other exponents of emotional ethics, and is not un- 
related to the emphasis that the later utilitarians put on 
the principle of pleasure. Though Mandeville denied 
that sympathy of the humanitarian type can prevail 
over the "instinct of sovereignty,” it is well to remem- 
ber that he was himself an emotional moralist. He even 
recognizes among man’s natural passions a passion of 
pity that may on occasion be violent. One has only to 
exalt this passion of pity and, at the same time, to take 
seriously Mandeville’s occasional praises of ignorance 
and the simple life, to be in sight of the primitivistic 
solution of the problem of luxury and of civilization it- 

1 The following passage from Rousseau (Emile, Livre iv) may 
serve as a sample of the fully developed emotional ethics of which 
the beginnings are found in Shaftesbury; “Get enthousiasme de la 
vertu, quel rapport a-t-il avec notre int^r^t priv6? . . . Otez de nos 
coBurs cet amour du beau, vous 6tez tout le charme de la vie. 
Celui dont lea viles passions ont 6tou£f6 dans son &me 6troite ces 
sentiments dSlicieux; celui qui, & force de se concentrer au dedans 
de lui, vient fijbout de n’aimer que Iui-m6me, n’a plus de trans- 
ports, son ccBur glac4 ne palpite plus de joie, un doux attendrisse- 
ment n’humecte jamais ses yeux, il ne jouit plus de rien.” This 
type of “enthusiasm” assumes at times a Platonic coloring, as in 
Nmivelle HUmse, Pt. ii, Lettre xi. Plato, however, as Gompera 
points out (GnKhische Denker, n, p. 411), “would have utterly 
despised the sentimentalism of Rousseau." 


self that Rousseau was to set forth in his two Discourses. 
Mandeville is on the side of decorum, and yet he admits 
that decorum is not only “artificial,” but is, as Rous- 
seau was to say later, only the “varnish of vice” and the 
“mask of hypocrisy.” He affirms that vice in general is 
nowhere more predominant than where arts and sci- 
ences flourish, and that we shall find innocence and 
honesty nowhere more widely diffused than among the 
most illiterate, the “poor silly country people.” “Would 
you banish fraud and luxury? Break down the printing- 
presses and burn all the books in the Island, except those 
at the Universities where they remain unmolested.” 

What is being weakened by the realism of Mandeville, 
as well as by the idealism of Shaftesbury, is the sense of 
the inner life. And by the inner life, I mean the recog- 
nition in some form or other of a force in man that moves 
in an opposite direction from the outer impressions and 
expansive desires that together make up his ordinary or 
temperamental self. The decisive victories of both ra- 
tionalistic and emotional ethics over the traditional 
dualism were won in the eighteenth century. At the 
same time, we must not forget that we have to do with 
the final stages of a secular process. The political reflex 
of this process is the passage from a Europe that was 
unified in theory, and to some extent in practice, by the 
Roman theocracy to a Europe made up of great terri- 
torial nationalities governed in their relations to one 
another by international law. As conceived by Grotius, 
international law rests largely upon naturalistic founda- 
tions. The publication of his work was followed in a few 
years by recognition of the new Europe in the Peace of 


WestphaUa (1648). Within the bounds of each separate 
nationality, the essential aspect of this secular process is 
the passage from dmne right to popular right, from the 
sovereignty of God to the sovereignty of the people. In 
the long period of transition, supematuralist and natu- 
ralistic views are blended in ahnost every possible pro- 
portion. For example, Protestants, especially the Cal- 
vinists, and Catholics, especially the Jesuits, borrowed 
naturalistic concepts such as a state of nature, natural 
rights, and the social compact, but only that they might 
affirm more effectively the principle of divine sover- 
eignty, with its theocratic implications, in the spiritual 

Some, to be sure, saw the danger of thus making secu- 
lar power seem to receive its sanction, not from above, 
but from below. Thus Filmer says in his “Patriarcha": 
“Late writers have taken up too much upon trust from 
the subtle schoolmen who, to be sure to thrust down the 
king below the Pope, thought it the safest course to ad- 
vance the people above the king.” A doctrine that was 
opposed to Jesuitical encroachments of this kind, and 
played an important role in the rise of nationalism, was 
that of the divine right of kings and of passive obedi- 
ence. The strict subordination of the spiritual to the 
temporal power, urged by Erastus, had been encouraged 
by Luther him self. And Luther’s own attitude was re- 
lated to that of mediaeval theorists like Occam, who had 
sought to exalt the Emperor and depress the Pope. The 
monarchs, however, to whom the Lutheran inclined to 
give jurisdiction in matters religious (cujus regio, ejus 
rdigio), were not like the Emperor universal; they ruled 


by hereditary right over certain limited territories. The 
theocratic state of Calvin again is related to the mediae- 
val theory that exalted the Pope at the expend of the 
Emperor; but here also there is lacking the element of 
universality. Practically both the Lutheran and the 
Calvinistic state tend to run together the things of God 
and the things of Caesar, and to leave the individual 
without any dvitas dei in which he may take refuge from 
the secular power. There is, then, this justification for 
the opinion of those who look upon Protestantism in 
all its forms as only an incident in the rise of nation- 

A defence of divine right that should receive atten- 
tion as an example, though a very imperfect one, of an 
important type of political thinking, is the work of Fil- 
mer I have just mentioned: “Patriarcha, or the Natural 
Power of Kings” (1680). The arguments in favor of 
the patriarchal view of government have indeed never 
been adequately set forth in the Occident. In spite of 
all that has been urged by Aristotle and others, we must, 
if we go by the actual experience of mankind, conclude 
that the patriarchal conception has enormous elements 
of strength. It has been the normal conception of great 
portions of the human race over long periods of time. 
Such a study as that of Fustel de Coulanges on the 
Greek and Roman city-state, and its derivation from the 
religion of the family, aids us to understand political and 
social institutions that still survive in countries like 
China and Japan. Unfortunately, Filmer does not ap- 
ply an adequate psychological analysis to the patri- 
archal conception and uncover its deep roots in the 


actual facts of human nature. He is at once too natural- 
istic anti too theological. By his very sub-title, he 
proclaims that the patriarchal power is “natural,” and, 
at the same time, he seeks by somewhat grotesque 
speculations to prove that the actual power of kings is 
based on their direct descent from Adam. 

Filmer seems to have missed the point seriously in 
seeking to show that the basis of patriarchal and royal 
power is natural. A more powerful and consistent 
champion of divine right is Bossuet in his “Politique 
tir6e de I’Ecriture Sainte” (1709). He asserts, indeed, 
that all laws are founded on the first of all laws, that of 
nature, conceived as a law of equity and right reason. 
But in general he opposes to the oncoming naturalistic 
tide a thoroughgoing supernaturalism. Men are bom, 
not free and equal, but subjects, first of all to their 
parents. Parental authority itself is the image of that 
of God, who is the only absolute sovereign. Parental 
authority serves, in turn, as a model for that of the king. 
The king’s power does not depend upon the consent and 
acquiescence of his people. It is independent of the 
Pope. But though absolute, it is not arbitrary; for it is 
controlled from above. Bossuet exalts the monarch in 
the secular order only to humble him in the sight of God 
and to lay upon him the weight of an almost intolerable 
responsibility. “Behold,” he says, “an immense people 
brought together in a single person, behold this sacred, 
paternal, and absolute power; behold the secret reason 
which governs all this body of the State. You see the 
image of God in kings and gain from them the idea of 
royal majesty. And so, oh kings, exercise your power 


boldly; for it is divine and salutary to mankind; but 
exercise it with humility. It is laid upon you from with- 
out. At bottom it leaves you weak, it leaves you mor- 
tal, it leaves you sinful; and burdens you in God’s sight 
with a heavier reckoning.” Kings, after all, he goes on 
to say, are but gods of flesh and blood, of clay and dust. 
Earthly grandeur may separate men for a moment, but 
they are all made equal at the end by the common 
catastrophe of death. 

This exercise of the royal office in humble subordina- 
tion to God was scarcely achieved even by a Saint Louis. 
As for Louis XIV, one is tempted to say that he took to 
himself the first part of Bossuet’s doctrine {I’etat c’est 
men) and overlooked the humility. Bossuet, in asserting 
the immediate derivation of the royal power from God, 
goes back, like other champions of divine right, to the 
medieval theorists of the Empire. But there was only 
one Emperor whose sway was supposed to be universal, 
whereas there were a number of kings equally absolute 
in their pretensions, ruling by hereditary right over 
great territorial nationalities, and clashing, not merely 
in their secular ambitions, but also, as a result of the 
Reformation, in their religion. Practically the rulers of 
these nationalities were in the state of nature with 
reference to one another, whatever one may conceive 
the state of nature to be. Bossuet pushed his love of 
unity to the point of encouraging religious persecution, 
as manifested, for example, in the Revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes (1685). Yet his doctrine not only failed 
to provide an adequate offset to a centrifugal national- 
ism, it seemed by its insistence on the hberties of the 


French Idng and clergy (les liberUs gallicaries) to make 
against unity in the Church. 

In asserting the Gallican liberties, Louis XIV and 
Bossuet were setting themselves against the main trend 
of the Church since the later Middle Ages. The fourth 
article of the Declaration of the French clergy, made in 
1682 and subscribed by Bossuet, declares that the judg- 
ment of the Pope is not definitive without the consent of 
the Church. But this type of limited and constitutional 
Catholicism had been compromised by the breakdown 
of the conciliar movement. Every significant change 
from that day to this has been in the direction of greater 
papal centralization. The theorist of this ultramontane 
type of Catholicism and the enemy of Bossuet and 
Louis XIV is Joseph de Maistre. His book on the Pope 
(1819) looks forward to the final trumph of the doctrine 
of papal infallibility in the Vatican Council (1870). A 
main element in Christianity from a fairly early period 
is what one may term Roman imperialistic organization. 
This element de Maistre develops into a thoroughgoing 
papal imperialism. The supreme ruler by divine right is 
the Pope. Temporal rulers, so far as they profess to be 
Catholic, should recognize his hegemony. This concep- 
tion of rigid outer authority de Maistre proceeds to 
establish on the ruins of every type of individualism. In 
contrast to Bossuet, who was in the great central Chris- 
tian tradition, so much so that one is tempted to call him 
the last of the fathers of the Church, de Maistre, though 
a man of admirable character, reveals in his writings 
little sense of the iimer fife, not much more, it might be 
maintained, than the rationalists of the eighteenth cen- 


tury whom he was assailing. The subordination of the 
true Christian is based on humihty and charity. The 
subordination at which de Maistre aims is primarily 
social. The chief need of society is order, and order, as 
de Maistre conceives it, must be achieved largely by 
fear and repression. The ultimate support of the whole 
social structure, as he tells us in a celebrated chapter, is 
the executioner. He champions the agencies of the 
Church that are most frankly ultramontane and anti- 
individualistic — the Index, the Inquisition, and the 

Bossuet pushes the doctrine of the divine right of 
kings about as far as it will go, and no one is ever likely 
to go beyond de Maistre in asserting the divine right of 
the Pope. The reply to the absolute and unlimited 
sovereignty, whether of Pope or King, based on divine 
right, was the assertion of the absolute and unlimited 
sovereignty of the people, based on natural right. The 
doctrine of popular sovereignty is found even in the 
Middle Ages, notably in Marsilius of Padua, and at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century is worked out 
along rather radical lines by Althusius. Practically, 
however, the most important precursor of Rousseau in 
the development of this doctrine is Locke. The first of 
his two “Treatises of Government” (1690) has lost its 
interest along with the special form of the doctrine of 
divine right that he sets out to refute, that of Filmer’s 
“Patriarcha”; the second Treatise, however, remains a 
chief landmark of political thinking. To understand 
this work in its derivation, one needs to go back to the 
contrast between nature and convention established 


by the early Greek thinkers, and to the conception of a 
law of nature that grew out of this contrast, largely 
under Stoical influence, and became embodied in 
Roman law; finally one needs to trace through the 
centuries the process by which the Roman juristic con- 
ception finally became, in writers like Locke, the doc- 
trine of the rights of man. The doctrine of natural 
rights, as maintained by Locke, looks forward to the 
American Revolution, and, as modified by Rousseau, 
to the French Revolution. Locke has to defend natural 
right not merely against the partisans of royal preroga- 
tive, but also against Machiavellian realists like Hobbes. 
For Hobbes, the state of nature is liberty, equality, and 
war. He would, therefore, in the interests of peace have 
the individual enter into a contract by which he re- 
nounces once and for all his liberty or unlimited sover- 
eignty over his own person, and enjoy equality under a 
despot. For Locke, on the other hand, though he has an 
occasional primitivistic touch, the state of nature is 
liberty, equality, and reason. It is “a state of peace, 
good-will, mutual assistance, and preservation.” ^ In 
fact the law of nature is identical with the will of God ® 
(or, as Pope was to say a little later, "The state of nature 
was the reign of God”). Locke, indeed, so runs together 
the spiritual and the temporal order that he speaks of an 
“appeal to heaven” when he means an appeal to force. 
He recognizes, however, certain disadvantages in the 
state of nature, especially in its bearing upon the safety 
of private property. If property is to be fully secured, 
men need in addition to the natural law a positive law 
1 Book ii, ch. HI. > lUd., oh. xi. 


to be administered by impartial judges who require in 
turn the force of an organized state to give their decisions 
due execution. The first aim, therefore, of the contract 
hy which men substitute a settled government for the 
state of nature, is to secme the common good, which is 
taken to be identical with the protection of property. 
The source of property itself, and this is a point of ex- 
treme importance to which I shall need to return later, 
is manual labor. The will of the people, conceived as the 
will of the majority, is to be supreme. This will, how- 
ever, is to be expressed not directly but through the 
legislative, which as the organ of the popular will is to 
dominate both the executive and the judiciary. Prac- 
tically, Locke’s treatise reflects the upshot of the revo- 
lution of 1688, the transfer, namely, of the final power 
of the State from the King to Parliament. The legisla- 
tive is especially vigilant in its control over the executive 
in all that relates to the common interest, that is, the 
safety of property. (Taxation without representation is 

Even a theorist of divine right like Bossuet admits the 
danger of an imcontrolled executive. “Let us candidly 
confess,” he says, “that there is no temptation equal to 
that of power, nor aught more difficult than to refuse 
yourself anything when men grant you everything, and 
think only of forestalling or even of stimulating your de- 
sires.” As for Locke, he does not even deem it worth 
while to reply to those who maintain that a ruler, though 
not limited by men, may be limited by his responsibility 
to what is above him. For him, a king is in a state of 
nature not only with reference to other kings, but with 


reference to his own subjects; and being thus unre- 
strained he is at the same time corrupted with flattery 
and armed with power. Though Locke is thus on his 
guard against an uncontrolled royal will, it is hard to see 
that he has taken any precautions against the opposite 
danger. However moderately he himself may interpret 
the sovereignty of the people, it is not easy to discover 
in his theory anything that will prevent this sovereignty 
from developing into a new absolutism. The people 
exercises not only legal control over its legislators, but 
has the right, if they seem to be acting contrary to the 
people’s interest, to rise up against them in insurrection. 
In the final analysis, the only check to the evils of an 
unlimited democracy will be found to be the recognition 
in some form of the aristocratic principle. Such a recog- 
nition is entirely lacking in Locke. The very logic of 
natural rights runs counter to the idea of deference and 
subordination, at least on any other basis than that of 
force. In the state of nature, says Locke all men are 
equally kings, and subject to nobody; and this equality 
does not suffer serious diminution as the result of the 
social contract. Locke simply dodges the political prob- 
lem that seems so important to an Aristotle and a Con- 
fucius, namely, the problem of leadership. It is charac- 
teristic of the English that the radical and equalitarian 
side of Locke should he slow to develop. The Revolu- 
tion of 1688, of which he is the theorist, gave the control 
of government to an oligarchy that owed its power and 
prestige to the survival of the traditional subordinations. 
The diflficulties of the Whig position, that of carrying on 
government by an aristocracy that lacks doctrinal justi- 


fication, became manifest in time. This aristocracy vir- 
tually abdicated at the time of the Reform Bill (1832). 
The full results of the movement that was getting under 
way in the time of Locke are becoming apparent in our 
own day. The people, especially the people of the great 
urban centres, no longer look up with respect to repre- 
sentatives who are themselves so imbued with the utili- 
tarian temper encouraged by Locke that they have per- 
haps ceased to be worthy of respect. If the aristocratic 
principle continues to give way to the equalitarian de- 
nial of the need of leadership, parliamentary government 
may ultimately become impossible. 

It is Locke’s aim to deal with human nature in a more 
empirical or experimental way than his philosophical 
predecessors. At the same time he has a strongly ra- 
tionalistic side that reveals the Cartesian influence. 
By their assertion of a “reason” in man that can prevail 
unaided over the imagination and expansive desires, 
both Locke and Descartes renew the Stoical position. 
The counter-assertion of Pascal that unaided reason 
cannot win any such easy victory, that on the contrary 
“imagination rules everything,” seems nearer to the 
observed facts, and, therefore, more truly experimental. 
According to Locke, imagination becomes embodied in 
customs and traditions that may from the point of view 
of reason be dismissed as mere prejudice. By the oppo- 
sition that he thus establishes between reason and prej- 
udice, Locke becomes, along with Descartes, a main in- 
fluence on the period of European culture known as the 
Enlightenment. Although no one perhaps did more for 
Locke’s French and European influence in general than 


Voltaire, in the field of political theor>", on the other 
hand, this influence is perhaps best studied in Mon- 
tesquieu.^ Like Locke, he stands for parliamentarj' con- 
trol of the executive, especially in all that relates to 
taxation and the initiation of money bills. He tends, 
however, to separate more sharply than Locke the legis- 
lative, the judiciarj', and the nxecutive, and to make the 
judiciarj" and the executive more independent of the 
legislative, in such wise that the different functions of 
government may senn as a system of checks and bal- 
ances upon one another. As is well known, it was this 
side of Montesquieu that was most influential on early 
American political theory. At the same time, only an 
unfriendly critic will see in the framers of the American 
Constitution pure disciples of Alontesquieu. They pos- 
sessed in a marked degree something that can scarcely 
be claimed for Montesquieu — practical sagacity. Com- 
pared with the political views of a Machiavelli those 
of Montesquieu have about them an atmosphere of un- 
reality; so much so that even the angelic Joubert said 
that one might leam more of the art of government from 
a page of Machiavelli than from a volume of Montes- 
quieu. Moreover, our own constitutional statesmen did 
not for the most part share Montesquieu’s general philos- 
ophy. This philosophy as it appears in “L’Esprit des 
Lois” (1748) suffers from certain inconsistencies, but on 
the whole it shows, even when compared with that of 
Locke, a noteworthy advance in the direction of a pure 
naturalism. The theological has given way still further 

' See J. Dedieu: Montesquieu et la tradition pditique anglaise en 


to the sociological point of view, so much so that Mon- 
tesquieu has been regarded by some as the founder of 
sociology. “He is the least religious spirit that ever 
was,” says Faguet; and in truth he reveals an almost 
total lack of sense of the values of the inner life. To 
be genuinely religious or humanistic, one must assert 
whether in the form of divine grace or of free moral 
choice, a power in the heart of the individual that may 
lift him above physical nature. In the three main forms 
of government that he recognizes — monarchical, repub- 
lican, and despotic — Montesquieu gives little weight to 
any such specifically human factor. Though he does lip- 
service to Christianity, he leans towards determinism 
and the empire of physical causes, putting special stress, 
as is well known, on the relation between climate and 
national character. His insistence, therefore, that laws 
must not be regarded as anything absolute, but must co- 
incide in their general spirit with national character, is 
very different from the Aristotelian emphasis on ethos. 
For though Aristotle recognizes the influence of chmate, 
he is on the whole less concerned with what nature 
makes of man than with what man makes of himself. In 
Montesquieu’s view, even religion is largely a matter of 
climate. Chmate determines the parts of the world that 
are to be Mohammedan or Christian,^ and within Chris- 
tianity itself those that are to be Protestant or Cathohc.^ 
“Good sense” is likewise, it would seem, a matter of 
climate.^ This naturalistic relativism implies a revolu- 
tion in the very basis of ethics. As a matter of fact, 

‘ Esprit dea Lois, liv. xxiv, ch. 26. 

> Ibid., liv. XIV, ch. 3. 

• Ibid., ch. 5. 


Montesquieu has the grace to warn us that he is not 
using a^ word like virtue in the traditional meaning. 
“What I call virtue in a republic,” he says, “is not a 
moral or Christian virtue, it is the love of country, that 
is to say, the love of equahty.” He develops admirably 
the thesis that this republican love of equahty must not 
be pushed to a point where it becomes incompatible 
with the necessary subordinations. The obvious reply 
of a Bossuet would be that if subordination is to rest on 
any other principle than force, it must imply the sub- 
mission of man’s ordinary will to some higher will, it 
must in other words be ultimately rooted in humihty. 
To be sure, Montesquieu seems at times to recognize the 
relation between repubhcan virtue and religious control. 
He says in a celebrated sentence: “Rome 4tait un vais- 
seau tenu par deux ancres dans la temp^te — la rehgion 
et les moeurs.” With the decay of this traditional ethos, 
luxury increased and liberty dechned.^ 

Montesquieu conceives in an external and formalistic 
fashion the honor that is the informing principle of 
monarchy. It has httle to do with virtue either as he 
defines it or as it has been traditionally understood. His 
treatment of this form of the aristocratic principle, how- 
ever faithfully it may reflect what aristocracy had ac- 
tually become in the age of Louis XV, can scarcely be 
said to do justice to the implications of the maxim 
noblesse oblige. In the humanistic poise that the gentle- 
man {honn&te homme) sought to combine with the cult 

' Yet in another chapter — and this is a good sample of his 
inconsistency — he adopts Mandeville’s arguments in favor of 
luxury. {Ibid., liv. xix, ch. 9.) 


of honor, he discovers little more than a veneer of poKte- 
ness that dissimulates the scramble of courtiers for the 
royal favor. 

Since laws and governments, according to Montes- 
quieu, are relative, and relative chiefly to physical 
causes, one might suppose that not much is to be gained 
from human interference with the working of these 
causes. As a matter of fact, there is another side of 
Montesquieu that suggests that though man cannot 
modify himself from within along humanistic or reli- 
gious lines, he may be modified from without not merely 
by climate but by institutions; and that these institu- 
tions may be of a more or less progressive character. He 
displays, in short, the usual confidence of the man of the 
Enlightenment in the final triumph of reason over prej" 
udice. His influence can be traced on those persons, 
especially numerous towards the end of the eighteenth 
century, who hoped to renovate society by an ingenious 
manipulation of political machinery, and who had an 
almost unlimited faith in the efficacy of paper constitu- 

I have just used the word progressive. As a matter of 
fact, the idea of progress, which was to give its distinc- 
tive note to modem naturalism, was just taking definite 
shape in the time of Montesquieu. Only the barest be- 
ginnings of this idea can be found in the naturalism, 
whether Stoic or Epicurean, of ancient Greece and 
Rome. The idea of progress has its ultimate source in 
the first triumphs of scientific method in the Renais- 
sance. In its early English form, it is associated with the 
Baconian influence and the founding of the Royal So- 


ciety (1662), and tends to be practical and empirical. 
In its early French form, it is associated with the Car- 
tesian influence, and tends to be more abstract and log- 
ical. The Baconian and Cartesian currents come to- 
gether in the eighteenth century, especially in France. 
The result is an ever-growing confidence in hiunan per- 
fectibility. The Abb4 de Saint-Pierre is already a fairly 
complete specimen of what one may term the pro- 
fessional philanthropist. Diderot and other Encyclo- 
paedists set out deliberately to substitute the Baconian 
kingdom of man for the traditional kingdom of God. 
At the same time, the new doctrine did not have all that 
it needed if it was to develop into what has been, for 
several generations past, the true religion of the Occi- 
dent — the religion of humanity. The movement thus 
far had been predominantly rationalistic. Its main 
achievement had been to develop, largely on Cartesian 
lines, the idea of universal mechanism, and to oppose 
nature, conceived as a system of constant and inflexible 
laws, to the providential interference with natural law 
that had been asserted, in some form or other, by the 
older dualists. A Christian supematuralist like Bossuet 
was, therefore, justified from his own point of view in 
putting at the very centre of his defence of religion 
against naturalistic tendency the idea of Providence. 
The substitution of the idea of law for Providence is not 
in itseK, from the point of view of the strict positivist, a 
chimerical undertaking.* But in that case one would 

^ Buddha, for example, bestowed bis final homage not upon 
Providence in the Christian sense, but upon the Law (“ Dham- 
ma”), a law, one scarcely need add, quite distinct from that of 
physical nature. 


have needed, if the truths of the inner life were to be 
retained, to assert two laws — a law for man as well as a 
law for thing. The whole point of the new movement, 
however, was that it did nothing of the kind. It sought 
to bring both the natural and the human order under 
one law, and then, following the lead of Descartes, to 
reduce this one law to mathematical and mechanical 
formulse. To be sure, in the deistic movement, an im- 
portant intermediary stage in the passage from the older 
dualism to modem monistic conceptions, the idea of 
Providence is still retained after a fashion. This deistic 
Providence, however, acts not immediately, as in true 
Christianity, but mediately through the laws of nature, 
which Providence was deemed, therefore, to have con- 
trived with a special view to man’s benefit. Hence the 
emphasis that most deists put on the doctrine of final 
causes, and their consternation at an event like the 
Lisbon earthquake which scarcely seemed to square 
with their theory of a Providence that worked for 
man’s good through the natural order. 

The deistic movement, and indeed, as I have already 
said, the whole naturalistic movement from the Renais- 
sance down, had been thus far predominantly rationalis- 
tic. Now it has been a constant experience of man in all 
ages that mere rationalism leaves him imsatisfied. Man 
craves in some sense or other of the word an enthusiasm 
that will lift him out of his merely rational self. Even 
Voltaire, perhaps the outstanding figure of the Enlight- 
enment, declared that illusion is the queen of the h uma n 
heart. In the field of political thought, the conception of 
the rights of man remained comparatively inert as long 


as these rights were derived from a hypothetical state of 
nature merely by a process of abstract reasoning. “ Cold 
reason,” as Rousseau declared, “has never done any- 
thing illustrious.” Rousseau had many precursors, as 
appears from what I have already said about the Eng- 
lish background, yet it was he who more than any 
other one person put behind the doctrine of the rights 
of man the imaginative and emotional driving power it 
still lacked, and at the same time supplied the missing 
elements to the religion of humanity. Among those who 
took up the defence of the traditional order against 
Rousseau, Burke is easily first, because he too perceived 
in his own way the truth that cold reason has never done 
anything illustrious. He saw that the only conservatism 
that counts is an imaginative conservatism. One may, 
therefore, without being fanciful, regard the battle that 
has been in progress in the field of political thought since 
the end of the eighteenth century as being in its most 
significant phase a battle between the spirit of Burke 
and that of Rousseau. And this opposition between 
Burke and Rousseau will itself be found to turn, in the 
last analysis, on the opposition between two different 
types of imagination. 



The period that extends from the Renaissance to the 
eighteenth century was, as I have indicated in my first 
chapter, marked by the progressive emancipation of the 
individual from outer authority and the supernatural 
beliefs that this authority sought to impose. The indi- 
vidual did not use his new’ liberty to work out some 
critical equivalent of traditional religion; on the con- 
trary, he became mcreasingly naturalistic. At the 
same time he often indulged in theories of government 
that were at the opposite pole from those of Machia- 
velli, the typical political naturalist. This is because 
certain virtues were associated more and more with 
“nature,” virtues that the past had deemed the hard- 
won fruit not merely of humanistic but of religious dis- 
cipline. If the legitimacy of this association could be 
established, the Aristotelian generalization with which I 
started as to the necessary relation between ethos and 
government would evidently have to be abandoned. 
Before deserting Aristotle, however, we may do well to 
consider whether some sophistry does not lurk in what 
came to be the popular interpretation of the **state of 

The notion of a state of nature and of a law of nature 
antecedent to positive law and organized society is, as 
we have seen, nothing new. It emerges in classical antiq- 
uity, especially among the Stoics, and survives through- 


out the Middle Ages, largely as a result of the infiltra- 
tion of the Stoical influence into Roman law. It is re- 
inforced again, as I have said, by the direct return of the 
Renaissance to the Stoical * and other ancient sources. 
Moreover, one may find as early as the Church Fathers 
a tendency to identify the supposed state of nature with 
the state of man before the Fall and then to give to this 
state a communistic coloring, and at the same time to 
associate with man’s lapse from innocence the rise of 
private property.^ Though the law of nature was con- 
ceived to be in its own way divine, its authority was 
after all not to be compared with that of the divine law 
of which one secured knowledge through revelation. As 
long as one held to this positive form of God’s law, one’s 
assertion of a state of nature was sure to be tempered by 
a lively conviction of the survival in man of the “old 
Adam.’’ Hooker, for example, whose “Ecclesiastical 
Polity’’ appeared in 1592, looks forward in many of his 
ideas about natural law to Locke. But though asserting 
this law he declares: “Laws politic, ordained for ex- 
ternal order and regimen among men, are never framed 
as they should be, unless presuming the will of man to 
be obstinate, rebellious, and averse from all obedience 
to the sacred laws of his nature; in a word, unless pre- 
suming man to be in regard of his depraved mind, little 
better than a wild beast.” In the period between Hooker 
and Locke, the conviction of man’s depravity undergoes 
a notable diminution. Grotius already afifirms that, 

• See L. Zanta, La Renaissance du stc/icisme an xtri^ siide. 

’ The Stoical mfluence can be traced here also. See Seneca, 
Epistles, xrv, 2. Cf. also The Social and Political Ideas of Some 
Great Mediaeval Thinkers (edited by F. J. C. Hearushaw), pp. 43 


even if there were no God and no positive revelation, 
man might be guided aright in matters political by the 
law of nature conceived as a law of right reason. Along 
with this glorification of reason, one should note as far 
back as the sixteenth century an incipient glorification 
of instinct that was later to culminate, in one of its most 
characteristic expressions, in the cult of the noble savage. 
It is only, however, with the early eighteenth century 
that the glorification of instinct takes on so distinctly 
emotional a cast as to affect the very basis of ethics. 
Shaftesbury’s doctrine of the “moral sense” and the 
instinctive goodness it implies had wide and immediate 
popularity. For example, Sir John Hawkins says in 
his “Life of Johnson”: “His [Fielding’s] morality, in 
respect that it resolves virtue into good affections, 
in contradiction to moral obligation and a sense of 
duty, is that of Lord Shaftesbury vulgarized. He was 
the inventor of that cant-phrase, ‘goodness of heart,’ 
which is every day used as a substitute for probity, 
and means little more than the virtue of a horse or a 

Not only Shaftesbury, the optimistic naturalist, but 
the naturalistic cynic, Mandeville, prepared the way, as 
I have already said, for the emotional'ethics oTRous- 
seau. A ccording to Rousseau, the state of nature is not 
a state of reason. On the contrary, the man who think s 
is alreadyTilgEIy sophisticated, or^nEousseau’s phrase, 
“ a’d^av^JSmar’^Accordlni'tirhm^ man in’ the 
state of nature is isolated and at the same time domi- 
nated by instinct. These isolated units will not, how- 
'^ver, as Hobbes averred, be so dominated by the instinct 


of self-love as to make war on one another. Natural man 
has another instinct, namely, an instinctive dislike of 
seeing his fellow creatures suffer, which is alone a suffi- 
cient coimterpoise to the love of self. From the con- 
course and combination of these two principles — love 
of self and instinctive pity — Rousseau seeks to derive 
all the rules of natural right. “ Even the most outra- 
geous detractor of human virtue” (that is, Mandeville), 
says Rousseau, "was forced to admit natural pity, 
though he did not see that from this quality alone derive 
all the social virtues — generosity, clemency, humanity, 
benevolence, and friendship itself — that he seeks to 
deny men.” Indeed, if one considers unsophisticated 
man, man subject, that is, only to the primordial in- 
stmcts of pity and love of self, one must conclude that 
he is “ the most virtuous who offers the least resistance 
to the simple impulses of nature.” According to Scho- 
penhauer,* it was the glorious achievement of Rousseau 
to transform morality by thus basing it upon pity. A re- 
sult of this achievement that should be noted is the mod- 
ification, apparent in the sentence I have just quoted, 
in the meaning of such words as virtue. The more, in- 
deed, one studies the eighteenth century, the plainer it 
becomes that all other modern revolutions were pre- 
ceded at about that time by a revolution in the diction- 
ary. For a fuller understanding of Rousseau’s recoining 
of the word virtue, one needs to turn back for a moment 
to the “First Discourse” (1750). He there asserts the 
incompatibility between virtue and the refinement and 
luxury that seem to him to result necessarily from a 
* Grundlage der Moral, J 19, 9. 


cultivation of the arts and sciences. In his account of 
the undermining of Rome and other great states by the 
invasion of luxury, he uses by actual count the word 
virtue forty-three times. But one is not to suppose that 
in his solution of the problem of luxury that so preoc- 
cupied his age he is really seeking to recover the virtue 
of a Fabricius or a Lycurgus or a Calvin. What he op- 
poses to luxury is rather a return to nature and the 
simple life — and the simple life, as he conceives it, is 
to be very simple indeed.^ His virtue is a glorification 
of the instinctive and the subrational. So that Joubert 
was justified from his own point of view in saying that 
Rousseau had destroyed wisdom in men’s souls by talk- 
ing to them about virtue. 

Though the virtue of the “First Discourse” is dis- 
tinctly primitivistic, it received an essential addition 
in the “Second Discourse” by being associated with the 
idea of pity. The state of nature for Hobbes, as we have 
seen, meant liberty, equaUty, and war; for Locke, hb- 
erty, equality, and reason. On the contrary, says Rous- 
seau, both war and reason are the result of social sophis- 
tication. The true state of nature is liberty, equality, 
and fraternal pity. By his refutation of Hobbes, and 
his substitution of fraternity for reason, Rousseau 
gave to naturalism the driving power it still lacked. It 
thus became possible to develop it into a new evangel 
that seemed to culminate, like the old Evangel, in love. 

‘ See, for example, DernihreRiponsed.M. Bordes: “Qu’ils pais- 
sent meme, s’il le faut; j’aime encore mieux voir les hommea 
brouter I’herbe dans les champs que s’entre-d^vorer dans les 
villes . . . Osera-t-on prendre le parti de I’instinct centre la 
raison? C’est pr6cis4ment ce que je demande.” 


This conception of love in terms of expansive emotion 
is, as I have already said, a sort of parody of Christian 

In the state of nature all men are, it would seem, 
equally capable of pity. But in actual society the em- 
phasis on pity leads to the setting up of a sort of in- 
verted hierarchy. Just as in Christianity a man’s spir- 
itual rank is determined by his nearness to God, which is 
revealed in turn by the ardor of his charity, so in the 
new evangel man is to be rated by his nearness to na- 
ture, which is revealed in turn by the warmth of his 
commiseration. Now it is in the man of the plain people 
that the lively native impulse is least sicklied o’er by the 
pale cast of thought. “Love had he found in huts where 
poor men lie.” As one ascends in the social scale, love 
diminishes, and as one approaches the top, it gives way 
to its opposite. As for the rich, Rousseau compares them 
to “ravening wolves, who having once tasted human 
flesh, refuse every other food, and henceforth desire to 
devour only men.” 

Rousseau is, as a matter of fact, busy in creating a 
newTet ot mythsth at have, in^eir control of the human 
uriagmation, succeeded in n o small measure to the old 
theology. Just as in the old theology everything hinged 
on man's fall from God, so in Rousseau everything 
hinges on man’s fall from nature. The first and decisive 
step in this fall and the source of social evils was, ac- 
cording to Rousseau’s familiar account, the invention of 
private property in the form of property in land. With 
the invention of property, “equality disappeared.” 
“Work became necessary, and the vast forests were 


changed to smiling fields that had to be watered with 
the sweat of men, in which slavery and wretchedness 
were soon seen to spring up and grow with the crops.” 
Misery, in short, is the result of industry. 

What evidently underlies the mythology that Rous- 
seau is thus creating is a new dualism. The old dualism 
put the conflict between good and evil in the breast of 
the individual, with evil so predominant since the Fall 
that it behooves man to be humble; with Rousseau this 
conflict is transferred from the individual to society. 
That there is some survival of the older dualism in Rous- 
seau is beyond question; but it is equally beyond ques- 
tion that the actual influence of his work has been almost 
entirely associated with the new dualism. He himself 
saw in this new dualism the essence of the apocalyptic 
vision that came to him under the tree by the roadside 
on his walk to Vincennes. T he guiding princi ple of his 
writin gs, he say s, is to show that vice and error, stran- 
ge rs to man’s constitution , are introduceHTrom without, 
that they are due in short to his institutions. Now insti- 
tutions mean in practice those who administer them. 
A small group at the top of the artificial hierarchy, kings 
and priests and capitalists, sit on the lid, as it were, and 
keep man’s native goodness (as in Shelley’s “Prome- 
theus Unbound ”) from gushing forth torrentially. The 
fault in any case is not “Nature’s”; 

’ Nature! No! 

Kings, priests and statesmen blast the human flower 
Even in its tender bud; their influence darts 
Like subtle poison through the bloodless veins 
Of desolate society. 


Whence this strange dualism arose, “how George III 
and Paley and Lord Eldon came to possess an existence 
independent of Nature, and acquired the power of turn- 
ing all her good purposes to nought,” is, as Leslie Ste- 
phen remarks of Shelley, “one of those questions which 
we can hardly refrain from asking.” A similar question 
arises regarding the dualism of Rousseau. Most people, 
however, have not been inclined to subject the myth of 
natural goodness to any such indiscreet scrutiny. It is 
not only very flattering in itself; it seems to offer a con- 
venient avenue of escape from the theological nightmare. 
Above all it flattered those at the bottom of the social 
hierarchy. Christianity at its best has sought to make 
the rich man humble, whereas the inevitable effect of 
the Rousseauistic evangel is to make the poor man 
proud, and at the same time to make him feel that he is 
the victim of a conspiracy. The establishment of society 
and laws made it possible to change “an adroit usurpa- 
tion into an irrevocable right, and for the profit of a few 
ambitious persons subjected henceforth the whole of 
human kind to toil, servitude, and wretchedness.” One 
need scarcely be surprised that this and similar passages 
of the “Second Discourse” should still be a direct source 
of inspiration to the bomb-throwing anarchist.^ What 
one hears throughout this treatise, as elsewhere in Rous- 
seau, is the voice of the angry and envious plebeian, who 
in the name of love is actually fomenting hatred and 
class warfare. “ What was hardest to destroy in me,” we 

* For the testimony of a French magistrate on this point, see 
L. Proal: “L’Anarchisme au rviii® sifecle,” Rome philosaphique, 
vol. 82, pp. 135-60, 202-42. 


read in “EmUe,” “was a proud misanthropy, a certain 
acrimony against the rich and happy of the world as 
though they were so at my expense, as though their 
alleged happiness had been usurped from mine.” 

The crusader against social inequalities on Rousseau- 
istic lines may easily become not merely an enthusiast 
but a fanatic. This emancipation of feeling seems at 
first sight the essential aspect of Rousseau’s interpreta- 
tion of nature. Instead of the rationalistic and mechani- 
cal nature of the Cartesian, nature is spontaneity, in the 
sense of an expansive and even an explosive emotional- 
ism. “ I threw reason overboard," says Rousseau him- 
self, “and consulted nature, that is to say the inner 
sentiment which directs my belief independently of my 
reason.” But on closer examination one discovers that 
there is in Rousseau something even more fundamental 
than his emotionalism, and that is his special quality of 
imagination. In order to make this point clear, we need 
to consider with some care the contrast between the 
natural and the artificial that he establishes in his 
“Second Discourse.” His method in reaching this con- 
trast is similar in some respects to that of the modern 
evolutionist. Instead of having us look forward to ends, 
as Aristotle urges, if we are to understand man’s natiue, 
he would, like the evolutionist, have us grope our way 
back to beginnings. The change from primitive to civi- 
lized man is presented as a slow development with certain 
intermediary stages, each one of which Rousseau sup- 
poses to have consumed “thousands of centuries.” This 
portrayal of the evolution of mankind as a whole through 
various stages aided, one may note in passing, the efflo- 


rescence in Germany of numerous philosophies of his- 
tory.^ Rousseau’s nature, however, is in one particular 
violently at variance with the nature of most of the 
philosophers of histoiy and with that of all the evolu- 
tionists. Though the evolutionist is only too prone to 
whisk us off into some prehistoric period where he is free 
to indulge in airy hypothesis, he does not see in nature 
at any stage of the evolutionary process a source of pity. 
By his attribution of pity to the state of nature, Rous- 
seau has indeed gone far to justify the sentence with 
which he opens his discussion of this state in the “Sec- 
ond Discourse”; “Let us begin by setting aside all the 
facts.” The key to Rousseau’s nature, and also to what 
has passed for the ideal with innumerable Rousseauists, 
is found in his declaration that, not being able to dis- 
cover men to his liking in the real world, he built up for 
himself a “golden age of phantasy.” ^ His nature is in 
short what I have described elsewhere as a projection of 
the idyllic imagination. 

Faguet complains that the image Rousseau has lefLon 
themind of the public is that of a gentleman up in a 
cherry tree tossing down cherrms to two Saaidens below 
(incident of Mesdemoiselles Galley and Graffenried in 
the “Confessions”). Perhaps the public is not so far 
wrong after all as To Rousseau’s essential attitude. One 
can scarcely go through Rousseau’s writings without 
being struck by the number of variants he has given of 
the pastoral theme. Let no one suppose that it is a small 

* See Richard Fester: Ronaseau und die deutsche GeschidUs- 

‘ Leilre d M. de Malesherbes, 28 janvier, 1762. 


mattei* to be, like Rousseau, richly and spontaneously 
imaginative in this idyllic fashion. Perhaps no human 
trait is more universal than the longing for some golden 
age or land of heart’s desire. This longing has not only 
inspired a large proportion of the art and literature of 
the world, but has found its way into philosophy and 
religion. The idyllic element is unmistakably present in 
the story of the Garden of Eden; the Song of Solomon is 
described by Milton as a “divine pastoral”; the millen- 
nial yearnings of the early Christians are not unrelated 
to the same type of imagination. The Krishna of the 
Bhagavadgit4 is not in the least pastoral, but in the pic- 
ture that often serves as frontispiece to Indian editions 
of this poem, Krishna appears with the pastoral flute 
and kine, surrounded by the gopis or shepherdesses. 

What concerns us here is the relation of this type of 
imagination to modem political idealism. The agitator 
makes his chief appeal to it when he stirs the multitude 
by his pictures of the felicity that is to supervene upon 
the destruction of the existing social order. The English 
painter, Edward Lear, relates that in the year of revo- 
lution, 1848, he was staying in a Sicilian town. He left 
the town for some weeks and locked up his pictures and 
other things in a room, leaving the key with the hotel- 
keeper. A revolution had just broken out when he re- 
turned, and he found the waiters full of Chianti and 
patriotic fervor. He ventured to ask one of them for the 
key of his room that he might get his clothes. The wait- 
er utterly refused to be led from his dreams of a golden 
age to such details of daily life. “There isn’t any longer 
any key or room or clothes,” he exclaimed indignantly. 


“Everything is love and liberty. 0 che hella rivolu- 
zione !" } Unfortunately when the real refuses to vanish 
in favor of the ideal, it is easy to persuade the simple- 
minded that the failure is due not to the ideal itself, but 
to some conspiracy. In speaking of one of these childlike 
disciples of Rousseau, Anatole France says that it was 
his misfortune to have carried into the profession of cook 
to which fate had condemned him an Elysian soul in- 
tended for the golden age. He had been led to the most 
savage ferocity by the tenderest optimism. As^^atole 
France adds,_when one starts with the supposition that 
men are natura lly g6 o~J and virtuous, one inevitably ends 
by wishing to kill them all. What is remarkable about 
the period since the eighteenth century is the extent to 
which not merely the rank and file, but the leaders have 
followed the lure of the idyllic imagination. Thus 
Schiller exalts the idyll to the first places in literature, 
and associates it with the ideal. Elsewhere I have tried 
to show that the idyll does not deserve any such rank in 
literature. It would seem even more open to suspicion 
as a basis for political action. Lincoln writes to his 
friend Speed : “ I have no doubt it is the peculiar mis- 
fortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium 
far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize.” 
Lincoln was in these Elysian yearnings, as in other re- 
spects, very human. He was not, however, Elysian in 
his actual statesmanship. 

Later in this book we shaU study more in detail vari- 
ous persons who, imlike Lincoln, have carried over the 

‘ This story was a favorite of Tennyson’s. I abridge it from 
Wilfrid Ward, Problems and Persorts, pp. 204-05. 


idyllic tj^e of “vision” into the field of politics and 
economics. All that I wish to show now is that, in the 
case of Rousseau himself, even his sensibility is subject 
to his imagination, inasmuch as this imagination con- 
jures up the Arcadian state that he terms “nature,” 
towards which his emotions expand so freely. But to 
present Rousseau merely as an idyllic and emotional 
dreamer, it may be urged, is to forget that part of his 
writings, the “Social Contract,” for instance, in which 
he shows himself severely and coldly logical. The occa- 
sional severity of Rousseau’s logic one may grant, but its 
coldness is another matter. Starting from the premise of 
a fictitious state of nature, it leads to conclusions that 
justify emotional revolt against everything established, 
that are indeed enough to make “the very stones of 
Rome to rise and mutiny.” If the subjects of a despot, 
for example (every king in Europe was a despot accord- 
ing to the logic of the “ Social Contract”), seem to enjoy 
domestic tranquillity, it is merely, says Rousseau, the 
tranquillity of the companions of Ulysses in the den of 
the Cyclops, waiting their turn to be devoured. Rous- 
seau’s logic has been compared in its relation to his emo- 
tions to a henpecked husband, who keeps up a brave 
outer show of independence while actually doing his 
wife’s bidding. Moreover, another end is accomplished 
by Rousseau’s display of lo^cal rigor. The man at the 
bottom of the existing social order is flattered by being 
told that he is more virtuous, more fully possessed, in 
other words, of the spontaneous goodness of the state of 
nature than the man at the top. But, however ready he 
may be to believe that he is superior in feeling, he does 


not after all like to look upon himself as incapable of 
thought. The multitude, says Aristotle, cannot make 
distinctions. Rousseau’s logic is so contrived as to give 
to the multitude at least the illusion that it can make 
distinctions. He owes no small part of his amazing influ- 
ence to his flattery of the popular head as well as of the 
popular heart. As Taine writes in a letter to W. S. Lilly : 
“ What gives extraordinary power to the ideas of Rous- 
seau is above all the simplicity of the conception. As a 
matter of fact, the political reasoning that it produces is 
as easy as the rule of three. How are you to prove to this 
man that he does not understand, that the notion of the 
State is one of the most difficult to form, that political 
reasoning is beyond his grasp? You would insult him. 
He cannot admit even as possible a thing so prepos- 
terous; and his self-love is sufficient to blind bis good 

Thus far I have been dealing with the Rousseau who 
has actually moved the world — the Rousseau whose 
feelings fly out towards the vision conjured up by his 
imagination, and whose logic is in turn pressed into the 
service of his feelings. One must, however, grant that 
there is alongside of this Rousseau a very different Rous- 
seau. It is related that when he was in Strassburg a 
father told him that he was educating his son strictly on 
the principles of “Emile.” He replied: “So much the 
worse for him.” Even if not strictly true, this anecdote 
has a certain symbolical value. It is to be associated with 
his saying that his heart and his head did not seem to 
belong to the same individual. If his heart (to which, as 
I have tried to show, his logic is subservient) is revolu- 

84 democracy and LEADERSHIP 

tionary, his head is cautious. His replies to those who 
sought counsel of him, as any one who has been through 
his con-espondence will testify, were frequently very 
shrewd and sensible. As M. Lanson says, he applies his 
boldest doctrines in a way to reassure conservatives and 
satisfy opportunists. 

The contrast between the two Rousseaus is indeed so 
marked as to raise the question of his sincerity. As a 
preliminary to a discussion of this point, one needs to 
note that a special type of sincerity which seems to be 
much in request these days is itself an outcome of the 
Rousseauistic movement. It seems to be assumed in cer- 
tain quarters that almost any opinion is justified pro- 
vided it be held with sufficient emotional vehemence. 
One cannot help reflecting that perhaps the best exam- 
ples of sincerity in this sense are to be found in insane 
asylums; and that much of Rousseau’s sincerity, his 
conviction for instance during his later years that he 
was the victim of a universal conspiracy, was of this 
order. Sincerity is indeed only one of a whole class of 
virtues that are often taken to be primary when they are 
in fact only virtues with reference to something more 
fundamental. Thus many of our “liberals” conceive 
that it is in itself a virtue to be forward-looking, whereas 
it may be a vice, if what one is looking forward to should 
turn out to be pernicious or chimerical. A similar re- 
mark applies to those who pique themselves on their 
open-mindedness. It is well to open one’s mind, but 
only as a preliminary to closing it, only as a preparation, 
in short, for the supreme act of judgment and selection. 
In much the same way, the value of sincerity can be 


estimated only with reference to the previous question 
of truth or error. What makes the Socratic group at 
Athens and the scientific investigator to-day seem so 
respectable, when compared with the emotionalist, is 
that they ask, first of all, not whether a man is sincere, 
but whether he is right or wrong. If one is right, it is of ■ 
course important, at least in the domain of moral values, 
that he should be sincerely right. 

It is hard to deny Rousseau the type of emotional 
sincerity that I have just been discussing — a type that 
in its milder form reminds one of what would be known 
nowadays as the will to believe, and in its extreme form, 
is not far removed from madness. At the same time, 
Rousseau’s head could on occasion stand aloof and deal 
rather Socratically with his heart. For example, he said 
to Hume who had complimented him on the style and 
eloquence of his books: “To tell the truth, I am not dis- 
pleased with myself in that particular: at the same time 
I dread lest my writings are good for nothing at bottom, 
and that all my theories are full of extravagance.” * 

It is not, however, the self-critical Rousseau of this 
passage that need concern us, for the simple reason that 
it is not this Rousseau who has moved the world. The 
side of Rousseau that has moved the world, as M. Lan- 
son continues, is the side that “exasperates and inspires 
revolt . . . ; it is the mother of violence, the source of all 
that is uncompromising. It launches the simple souls 
who give themselves up to its strange virtue upon the 

‘ Letter of Hume to Dr. Blair, 25 March, 1766. This letter was 
written, it will be noticed, while Hume was still on friendly terms 
with Rousseau. 


desperate quest of the absolute, an absolute to be real- 
ized to-day by anarchy and to-morrow by social des- 
potism.” ^ 

Though the Rousse au who has been influen tial is 
always Rousseau the extremist, he oscillates, as _M. 
Lanson says, between opposite extremes. From the un- 
flinching in dividualism of the “Second Discou rse,” 
where man is conceiv ed as a sort oi isolat ed and un- 
related particle, he passes to the no less unflinching 
collectivism of the “Social Contract.” He fluctuates” 
b kwe en extremes even in his collectivistic ideal. Thus 
he writes to the Marquis de Mirabeau that h"? does not 
8ee~''^any endurable mean between the most aiTstere 
democracy and the most perfect Hobbism.” You must 
choose, he says, between making a man and making a 
citizen. You cannot hope to make both. Hitherto, I 
have been speaking for the most part of the virtue of 
man in the state of nature as depicted in the “Second 
Discourse.” It remains to speak of the “Social Con- 
tract,” and of the method there outlined for divesting 
man as completely as possible of his natural virtue in 
order that he may acquire the virtue of the citizen. In 
what I have to say about the “Social Contract,” I shall 
confine myself to the uncompromising main argument. 
That there are other elements in the “Social Contract” 
is beyond question. Rousseau affirms at times that the 
principles of government are not absolute but relative; 
that they are subject in their application to historical 
circumstances and physical environment, notably 
climate. But this relativistic Rousseau who reveals at 
‘ Anndles de la Soci&6 Jean-Jacqves Rousdeau, vui, p. 31. 


times the influence of Montesquieu is, as I have said* 
unimportant compared to the Rousseau who is strain- 
ing out towards the absolute and the unlimited. This 
absolutism of Rousseau appears, as is well known, 
most strikingly in his doctrine of popular sovereignty. 
This doctrine he reasons out from first principles with 
almost geometrical rigor. The first effect of this reason- 
ing is to make all existing governments seem illegiti- 
mate. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in 
chains.^ The^nly free and legitimate government is 
that founded upon a true social compact. On this basis, 
it is~^s"sible to combine the advantages of bfga'mzeS 
government with the liberty, equality,' and fratemity 
that man enjoys, not as the result of moral effort,'bur 
as a'free gift, in the state of natufej.'Only, under the 
social contract, these virtues no longer residg in the" 
individual, but in the general will. All the clauses of 
the social contract “reduce themselves to one: the 
total alienation of every associate with all his rights^ 
(including his rights to property) “to the whole cbm^ 
nimuty.” What guarantee is the individual to have that 
the community will not abuse this unlimited control 
that he has granted it over his person and property? 
Though the State is for Rousseau as for Hobbes not 
natural but artificial, he proceeds to develop the analogy 
between this artificial body and the body of an actual 
person. One of the most important sources of this ten- 
dency to set up an elaborate parallel between the indi- 
vidual and the State is Plato’s “Republic.” In Plato, 
however, the parallel is used to establish a severe hier- 
archy in the State, in much the same way that the pow- 


ers and faculties of the individual must work in due 
order and subordination; whereas the informing spirit 
of the Rousseauistic conception is the idea of equality. 
The use that Rousseau makes of the parallel is to argue 
that the community cannot will the harm of any of the 
individuals that compose it any more than the single 
person can will the harm of one of his own members. 
On the side of theory, however, Rousseau’s chief argu- 
ment in favor of the disinterestedness of the general will 
is that it has had transferred to it by the social contract 
the spontaneous goodness that belongs to the will of the 
individual in the state of nature. At this point, however, 
Rousseau’s good sense intervenes. Granted that the 
multitude from whom the general will emanates wishes 
the right thing, it does not always see it. The people, 
after all, needs guidance. Hence arises the necessity of 
the Lawgiver; and Rousseau goes on to imagine some 
person of almost superhuman sagacity, set apart from 
other men, and under no suspicion of self-seeking, who 
draws up an ideal code that is to direct the general will, 
a code which actually enjoys credit with the people be- 
cause it seems to have religious sanction, in other words, 
because the Lawgiver seems to speak not for himself, 
but only as a channel of divine wisdom. One might sup- 
pose that the general will would be limited by the Law 
thus imposed; that the Law would become a permanent 
principle of control in the State, its higher self, as it 
were, in opposition to its mere passing desires. But at 
bottom, Rousseau does not want any effective check on 
the reaching out of his logic and emotions towards the 
unlimited; and so he finally transfers to the general will 


the anarchical impressionism he has asserted for the in- 
dividual. The only clear result of his speculations about 
the need of a Law and a Lawgiver was to encourage the 
conceit of followers like Robespierre, who felt that they 
had within them the making of a modem Lycurgus. 
Practically the general will is lawless; it cannot bind 
itself to obey its rulers, whom it regards as mere execu- 
tive officers, the people’s hired men as it were, revocable 
at pleasure. It cannot bind itself to anything it has 
willed in the past, or obligate itself in any way for the 
future. An assembly of the sovereign people should in- 
variably begin by voting separately on the two follow- 
ing questions; “first, whether it pleases the sovereign 
to preserve the present form of government; second, 
whether it pleases the people to leave the administration 
of it to those who are now in charge.” The sovereign 
people cannot be represented by a parliament, as in 
England. “At the moment a State gives itself repre- 
sentatives it no longer exists.” Sovereignty is absolute 
and indivisible. “To limit it is to destr(^lt.” “TEe 
sovereign people, by the very fact that it is, is always all 
that it should be.” It has often been pointed out that 
Rousseau transfers to the people the doctrine that the 
king can do no wrong. But he does more than that. 
The king, if not responsible to what is below him, is at 
least responsible to what is above him — to God. But 
the sovereign people is responsible to no one. It is God. 
The contract that it makes is with itself, like that which, 
according to the old theologians, was made in the coun- 
cil chamber of the Trinity. “By the mere pleasure of 
God,” says Jonathan Edwards, “I mean his sovereign 


pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obliga- 
tion,” etc. The popular will is the successor of the divine 
will, from which everything finally derived in the me- 
diseval theocracy. 

Rousseau’^ idea of soverei gnty, b eing as it is na^rd- 
istic, is of course in its ultimate essence neither medisevaJ 
nor theocratic. His idea of a contract that the people 
makes with itself by which it arrogates to itself full 
power, without any_ reciprocal obligation, is in im-~ 
portant resjpects original with Rousseau. We are en- 
tering,” he wrote in “Emile,” “on the era of crises and 
the age of revolutions.” He not only made the prophecy, 
but did more than any other one man to bring about its 
fulfilment. By asserting a general will that is at once 
absolute and shifting, he achieved the paradox of basing 
government on permanent revolution. Perhaps he is 
more closely related to Hobbes thajLto any previous^ 
political thinker, especially if it be true, as Sainte-Beuve 
says, that nothing resembles a hollow so much as a swell- 
ing. H is state o f nature and his sovereignty are merely 
the state of nature and the sovereignty of HobbesT^ 
varied. In Rousseau the people can do anythin'g it 
^ases with its ruler, in Hobbes the ruler can do any- 
thing he pleases with the people. But though the St^e 
of Hohbes has no higher self — the very idea of a higher 
self is foreign to his materiafistic philosophy — it has at 
least a permanent self. The contract by which the peo- 
ple^ivestsl^lf of its power in favor of its ruler is defini- 
tive. But Roussea u, as we have seen, will have no such 
element of permanency. If he had conceived of the gen- 
eral will as the permanent will of the people that might 


on occasion be in conflict with its ordinary will, his dis- 
tinction * between a disinterested volontS generale and a 
volonte de tons, which may stand for nothing more than 
the egoistic wills of individuals or groups, might have a 
serious meaning. As it is, this distinction melts away 
under close scrutiny. It is mystical in the bad sense. 

On all ordinary occasions the general will means a 
numerical majority at any particular moment. Ah im- 
di^ual or a minoiity of individuals has no appeal fro^ 
the decision of this majority in its interpretation of tiip 
general will. This is logical, inas much as the individual 
has transferred to th^general will the unlimit ed libiy t.v 
that he enjoyed in the state of nature. If any one is 
outvoted, he can console himself by the reflection that 
he was mistaken, that what he took to be the general 
will was not this will". If his private opinion had won, 
he would have been doing something contrary to Tils 
true will and his true liberty. In exercising constraint 
upon him, therefore, the majority is simply “forcing 
him to be free.” By this device Rousseau gets rid of the 
problem that has chiefly preoccupied political thinkers 
in the Enghsh tradition — how, namely, to safeguard 
the freedom of the individual or of minorities against a 
triumphant and despotic majority. 

This solution of the problem involves the setting up 
of a new dualism — that between the individual in his 
ordinary self and the individual as a citizen and member 

1 Strictly enforced this distinction makes party government 
impossible. It also points the way to the decision reached by the 
States General in 1789 that the deputies should vote individually 
and not as members of an order, a decision that meant practically 
the triumph of the Third Estate over the clergy and nobility. 


of the sovereign people conceived as his true self. But 
though the first term of this dualism, the individual in 
his ordinary self, may be subject to rigid control, the 
second term of the dualism, the State as embodied in the 
general will, is, let me repeat, subject to no control at 
all. The liberty of the general will, like that of the in- 
dividual in the state of nature, can be limited, if at all, 
as Rousseau says significantly, only by force. 

Any one who traces the subject historically will ac- 
quire the conviction, as I have already said, that the 
Christian religion founded something of which not even 
a Plato or an Aristotle had any adequate notion — per- 
sonal hberty. By its separation of the things of God and 
the things of Cassar, it established a domain of free con- 
science, in which the individual might take refuge from 
the encroachments of the omnipotent State. It is plain 
that Rousseau does not propose to leave the individual 
any such refuge. The last chapter of the “Social Con- 
tract” is devoted to Civil Religion. This chapter 
abounds in remarks of extraordinary shrewdness and 
penetration (as, for instance, where he observes that the 
Crusades were not truly Christian in spirit) and at the 
same time, so far as its general conclusions are con- 
cerned, may be described in Rousseau’s own phrase as a 
“sea of sophisms.” Rousseau distinguishes three types 
of religion : first, organized and traditional Christianity, 
especially the Christianity of the Catholic Church. 
This type of religion is so evidently bad as scarcely to 
merit serious refutation. “All institutions that put man 
in contradiction with himself are worthless.” The obvi- 
ous reply of the older type of dualist would be that man 


is in contradiction with himself, and that the Church 
merely reflects a primordial fact of human nature. One 
can no more grant that institutions per se are capable of 
any such effect than one can admit Rousseau’s counter- 
assertion that, merely as a result of institutions, all the 
members of a community may possess good sense, jus- 
tice, and integrity.^ 

The second religion that Rousseau recognizes is true 
Christianity, a religion entirely of the heart, without 
rites and ceremonies, and having much in common, as 
he conceives it, with the fluid emotionalism of the senti- 
mental deist. True Christians are like those great 
cosmopolitan spirits of whom Rousseau speaks in the 
“Second Discourse,” who “transcend the imagmary 
barriers that separate peoples, and like the sovereign 
being who has created them, embrace the whole human 
race in their benevolence.” The person, however, in 
whom natural pity has thus blossomed into universal 
benevolence is not necessarily either otherworldly or 
humble, and Rousseau is shrewd enough to see that the 
true Christian is both. He, therefore, proceeds to attack 
not merely institutional Christianity but true Christi- 
anity. It also divides man against himself, and by giving 
him a celestial fatherland weakens his allegiance to the 
dvitas terrena. Rousseau brings up questions of extras 
ordinary complexity regarding the distinction between 
a spiritual and a secular order, and the actual political 
results of this distinction as worked out in Christianity, 
questions that for their proper elucidation would require 
a volume. The main point that concerns us here is his 
‘ Conirat Social, liv. iv, ch. m. 


attack on humility, the underlying Christian virtue, on 
the ground that it is incompatible with the full virtue 
of the citizen. To be humble is to be submissive; so that 
“true Christians are meant to be slaves.” One should, 
therefore, discard humility in favor of patriotic pride, of 
the kind that flourished in the great days of Rome and 

Here again in his dealings with the relations of Church 
and State, Rousseau reminds us of Hobbes. “Of all 
Christian authors,” he himself says, “the philosopher 
Hobbes is the only one who saw clearly the evil and the 
remedy and ventured to propose bringing together the 
two heads of the eagle,” thus subordinating everything 
to political unity. But before Hobbes, Machiavelli, as I 
have already remarked, had sought to discredit the idea 
of a separate spiritual order, and also of Christian hu- 
mility itself, so that the State might be all in all. Quite 
apart from Rousseau’s admiration for Machiavelli and 
from any conscious discipleship, his view of the State 
has more in common with the Machiavellian view than 
one might at first suppose. Machiavelli is not, of course, 
like Rousseau, an emotionahst, but is, in his main trend, 
utilitarian. It is no accident that Francis Bacon, the 
prophet of utilitarianism, should be, as Lord Acton 
points out, his most distinguished Enghsh disciple. But 
Rousseau too has a strongly utilitarian side. Indeed one 
finds in him, as in the whole of our modem age, an end- 
less interplay of sentimental and utilitarian elements. 

This utilitarian side of Rousseau appears in the third 
form of religion he discusses in the “Social Contract.” 
After rejecting both institutional Christianity and true 


Christianity, on the ground that they are anti-national, 
he proposes as worthy of approval a religion which, 
properly speaking, is not a rehgion at all, but a social 
utility. The articles of its creed, which are determined 
by the sovereign, are to be imposed not precisely as dog- 
mas, but as promoting sentiments of sociability. The 
positive dogmas of this civil creed are, as Rousseau states 
them, fairly substantial (e.g., the existence of God, the 
future life, the happiness of the just and the punishment 
of the wicked). If any one does not believe them he may 
be banished from the State, not as impious but as rm- 
Eociable. “ If any one, after having recognized publicly 
these same dogmas, conducts himself as though he did 
not believe them, let him be punished with death.” The 
civil religion is to have only one negative dogma — the 
condemnation of intolerance. This is directed especially 
against institutional Christians, but it is hard to see how 
any one can escape this condemnation who holds in mat- 
ters religious to a definite standard of right and wrong, 
quite apart from the omnipotent State and its supposed 

Rousseau’s “civil religion” evidently looks forward 
to such an event as Robespierre’s Festival of the Su- 
preme Being. Unfortunately, it also looks forward to 
the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and to the guillo- 
tining as “fanatics” of many of the priests who refused 
to forswear their allegiance to Rome. It is fair to add 
that the “Social Contract" is only one source^ of the 
strife between clericals and anti-clericals that has been 
so prominent in France since the Revolution as to 

> Cf . P.-M. Masson, La Bdigim de J.-J. Rousseau, iii, ch. v. 


amount at times almost to civil war. In general we 
should recollect that Rousseau was less an originator of 
the ideas we have been discussing than the most im- 
portant single figure in a vast movement that had been 
gaining head for generations. In the words of Madame 
de Stael he invented nothing, but set eveiything on fire. 
Burke, the chief antagonist of Rousseau, took serious 
cognizance of this movement and of the enthusiasm it 
inspired only when they had begun to translate them- 
selves into great historical events. It was Rousseau and 
all he typified that he attacked in theFrenchRevolution. 



“Evebybodt knows,” Burke writes of the members of 
the French National Assembly, “that there is a great 
dispute amongst their leaders, which of them is the best 
resemblance of Rousseau. In truth, they all resemble 
him. His blood they transfuse into their minds and into 
their manners. Him they study; him they meditate; 
him they turn over in all the time they can spare from 
the laborious mischief of the day, or the debauches of 
the night. Rousseau is their canon of holy writ; in his 
life he is their canon of Polydetus; he is their standard 
figure of perfection. To this man and this writer, as a 
pattern to authors and to Frenchmen, the founderies of 
Paris are now running for statues, with the kettles of 
their poor and the bells of their churches.” 

I have presented Rousseau in his essential influence as 
the extremist and foe of compromise. In contrast to 
Rousseau, Burke is usually and rightly supposed to em- 
body the spirit of moderation. Many of his utterances 
on the French Revolution, however (the passage I have 
just quoted may serve as a sample), are scarcely sugges- 
tive of moderation, and towards the end he becomes 
positively violent. There is at least this much to be said 
in justification of Burke, that in his writings on the Rev- 
olution, he is for the most part debating first principles, 
and when it comes to first principles, the issue raised is 
not one of moderation, but of truth or error. Burke was 


no mere partisan of the status quo. He was not opposed 
on principle to revolutions. He is perhaps open to the 
charge of pushing too far his admiration for the Revolu- 
tion of 1688. His attitude towards the American Revo- 
lution was consistently one of compromise and in many 
respects of sympathy. He did not stand in any undue 
awe of those in authority. No one could on occasion call 
them to a stricter accounting or show himself a more dis- 
interested champion of the victims of unjust power. He 
recognised specifically the abuses of the Old Regime in 
France, and was ready to admit the application to these 
abuses of fairly drastic remedies. If he refused, there- 
fore, to compromise with the French Revolution, the 
reason is to be sought less in the field of politics than in 
that of general philosophy, and even of religion. He saw 
that the Revolution did not, like other revolutions, seek 
to redress certain specific grievances, but had universal 
pretensions. France was to become the “Christ of na^ 
tions” and conduct a crusade for the political regenera- 
tion of mankind. This particular mixture of the things 
of God and the things of Caesar seemed to him psycho- 
logically unsound, and in any case subversive of the ex- 
isting social order of Europe. The new revolutionary 
evangel was the final outcome of the speculations that 
had been going on for generations about a state of na- 
ture, natural rights, the social contract, and abstract 
and unlimited sovereignty. Burke is the chief opponent 
of this tendency towards what one may term meta- 
physical politics, especially as embodied in the doctrine 
of the rights of man. “ They are so taken up with the 
rights of man,” he says of the members of this school, 


“that they have totally forgotten his nature.” Under 
cover of getting rid of prejudice they would strip man of 
all the habits and concrete relationships and network of 
historical circumstance in which he is actually impli- 
cated and finally leave him shivering “in all the naked- 
ness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction.” They 
leave no limit to logic save despotism. In his attack on 
the enemies of prejudice, by which was meant practi- 
cally everjdhing that is traditional and prescriptive, 
Burke has perhaps neglected imduly certain minor 
though stUl important distinctions, especially the dis- 
tinction between those who were for getting rid of prej- 
udice in the name of reason, and those who, like Rous- 
seau, were for getting rid of it in the name of feeling. 
The rationalists and the Rousseauists were actually 
ready to guillotine one another in the Revolution, an 
opposition prefigured in the feud between Rousseau and 
various “philosophers,” notably Voltaire. Rousseau 
was as ready as Burke, though on different grounds, as 
I shall try to show presently, to protest against the 
“solid darkness of this enlightened age.” 

By the dismissal as mere prejudice of the traditional 
for ms that are in no small measure the funded experi- 
ence of any particular community, the State loses its 
historical continuity, its permanent self, as it were, that 
uni tes its present with its past and future. By an un- 
principled facility in changing the State such as is en- 
couraged by Rousseau’s impressionistic notion of the 
general will, the generations of men can no more link 
with one another than the flies of a summer. They are 
disconnected into the dust and powder of individuality. 


In point of fact, any political philosophy, whether that 
of Hobbes or of Rousseau, which starts from the suppo- 
sition that men are naturally isolated units, and achieve 
society only as the result of an artifice, is in its essence 
violently individualistic. For this atomistic, mechanical 
view of the State, Burke is usually supposed to have 
substituted an organic, historical conception. Much of 
his actual influence, in Germany ^ and elsewhere, has 
certainly been along these lines. Yet this is far from 
being the whole truth about Burke. A one-sided devo- 
tion to the organic, historical conception is itself an 
outcome of the naturalistic movement. It may lead to 
fatalistic acquiescence in traditional forms, and discour- 
age, not merely abstract rationalism, but a reasonable 
adjustment of these forms to shifting circumstance. It 
relates itself very readily to that side of the romantic 
movement that exalts the unconscious at the expense of 
moral choice and conscious deliberation. Once obscure 
this capacity in the individual, which alone raises him 
above phenomenal nature, and it will not be easy in the 
long run to preserve his autonomy; he will tend, as so 
often in German theory, to lose his independent will and 
become a mere organ of the all-powerful State. Though 
Taine, again, often professes to speak as a disciple of 
Burke in his attacks on the French Revolution, it is not 
easy to see a true follower in a philosopher who pro- 
claimed that vdce and virtue are products like sugar 
and vitriol.” 

The truth is that Burke is in no sense a collectivist, 
and still less, if possible, a determinist. If he had been 
* On Rehberg, Savigny, etc. 


either, he would not have attained to that profound per- 
ception of true liberty in which he surpasses perhaps any 
other political thinker, ancient or modem. For one who 
believes in personal liberty in Burke’s sense, the final 
emphasis is necessarily not on the State but on the indi- 
vidual. His individualism, however, is not, like that of 
Rousseau, naturalistic, but humanistic and religious. 
Only, in getting the standards by which the individual 
may hope to surpass his ordinary self, and achieve hu- 
manism or religion, he would have him lean heavily on 
prescription. Burke is anti-individualistic in that he 
would not set the individual to trading on his own pri- 
vate stock of wit. He would have him respect the gen- 
eral sense, the accumulated experience of the past that 
has become embodied in the habits and usages that the 
superficial rationalist would dismiss as prejudice. If the 
individual condemns the general sense, and trusts un- 
duly his private self, he will have no model; and a man’s 
first need is to look up to a sound model and imitate it. 
He may thus become exemplary in his turn. The prin- 
ciple of homage and service to what is above one has its 
culmination and final justification in fealty to God, the 
trae sovereign and supreme exemplar. Burke’s concep- 
tion of the State may be described as a free and flexible 
adaptation of genuinely Platonic and Christian ele- 
ments. “We know, and what is better, we feel inwardly, 
that religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of 
all good and all comfort.” “God willed the State.” 
(Thus to conceive the highest in terms of will is Chris- 
tian.) “He willed its connection with the source and 
original archetype of all perfection.” (The language is 


here Platonic.) Not merely religion but the actual 
chmch establishment is held by Englishmen to be es- 
sential to their State, as being indeed the very founda- 
tion of their constitution. 

“ Society is indeed a contract,” though the basis of the 
contract is not mere utility. The State is not to be re- 
garded as a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper 
and coffee. It is not, as a contemporary pacifist has 
maintained, the “pooled self-esteem” of the commu- 
nity, but rather its permanent ethical self. It is, there- 
fore, a partnership in all science and art and in every vir- 
tue and perfection. “As the ends of such a partnership 
cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a 
partnership not only between those who are living, but 
between those who are living, those who are dead, and 
those who are to be bom.” 

Though Burke thus uses the language of contract, it 
is plain that he moves in a different world from all chose, 
including Locke, for whom the idea of contract meant 
that man has certain rights as a free gift of nature and 
anterior to the performance of his duties. Talk to the 
child, says Rousseau, of something that will interest 
him — talk to him of his rights, and not of his duties.^ 
To assert, as Burke does in the main, that one has only 
concrete historical rights, acquired as the result of the 
fulfilment of definite obligations, is evidently remote 
from Rousseau’s assertion that a man enjoys certain 
abstract rights simply because he has taken the trouble 
to be born. The difference here is not merely between 
Burke and Rousseau, but also between Burke and Locke. 

> Emile, liv. n. 


The final superficiality of Locke is that he granted man 
abstract natural rights anterior to his duties, and then 
hoped that it would be possible to apply this doctrine 
moderately. But it has been justly said that doctrines 
of this kind are most effective in their extreme logical 
form because it is in this form that they capture the 
imagination. Now if the out-and-out radical is often 
highly imaginative in the fashion that I have attributed 
to Rousseau, the Whigs and the liberals who follow the 
Whig tradition are rather open to the suspicion of 
being deficient on the side of imagination. One cannot 
help feeling, for instance, that if Macaulay had been 
more imaginative, he would have shown less humani- 
tarian complacency in his essay on Bacon. Disraeli 
again is said to have looked with disdain on J. S. Mill 
because of his failure to perceive the r61e of the imagina- 
tion in human affairs, a lack that can scarcely be charged 
against Disraeli himself, whatever one may think of the 
quality of his imagination. 

Now Burke is the exceptional Whig, in that he is not 
only splendidly imaginative, but admits the supreme 
r61e of the imagination rather more explicitly than is 
common among either Christians or Platonists with 
whom I have associated him. He saw how much of the 
wisdom of life consists in an imaginative assumption of 
the experience of the past in such fashion as to bring it 
to bear as a living force upon the present. The very 
model that one looks up to and imitates is an imaginative 
creation. A man’s imagination may realize in his ances- 
tors a standard of virtue and wisdom beyond the vulgar 
practice of the hour; so that he may be enabled to rise 


with the esainple to whose imitation he has aspired. 
The foims of the past and the persons who administer 
them count in Burke’s eves chieflj as imagiiiative sjm- 
hols. In the famous passage on ilarie Antoinette one 
almost forgets the living and suffering woman to see in 
her with Burke a gorgeous symbol of the age of ehivairy 
yielding to the age of “sophisters, economists, and cal- 
ctilators.” There is in this sense truth in the taunt of 
Tom Paine that Burke pities the plumage and forgets 
the d3dng bird. All the decent drapery* of life, Burke 
complains of the new philosophy, is to be rudely tom 
off. “AH the super-added ideas, furnished from the 
wardrobe of a moral imagination, ... are to be ex- 
ploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion.” 

The apostles of the rights of man were, according to 
Burke, undermining the two principles on which e\'erj'- 
thing that was truly civilized in the European order had 
for ages depended : the spirit of religion and the spirit 
of a gentleman. The nobility and the clergy, who were 
the custodians of these principles and of the sjunbols 
that embodied them and ministered to the moral imag- 
ination, had received in turn the support of the learned. 
Burke warns the learned that in deserting their natural 
protectors for Demos, they run the risk of being “ cast 
into the mire and trodden under the hoofs of a swinish 

Burke is in short a frank champion of aristocracy. It 
is here especially, however, that he applies flexibly his 
Christian-Platonic, and humanistic principles. He com- 
bines a soundly individualistic element with his cult of 
the traditional order. He does not wish any static hier- 


archy. He disapproves of any tendency to deal with 
men in classes and groups, a tendency that the extreme 
radical shares uith the extreme reactionar}^ He would 
have us estimate men, not by their hereditary rank, but 
by their personal achievement. “There is,” he says, 
“no qualification for government but virtue or wisdom, 
actual or presumptive. Wherever they are actually 
found, they have in whatever state, condition, profession 
or trade, the passport of Heaven to human place and 
honor.” He recognizes, to be sure, that it is hard for the 
manual worker to acquire such virtue and wisdom for the 
reason that he lacks the necessary leisure. The ascent 
of rare merit from the lower to the higher levels of soci- 
ety should, however, always be left open, even though 
this merit be required to pass through a severe probation. 

In the same fashion, Burke would admit innovations 
in the existing social order only after a period of severe 
probation. He is no partisan of an inert traditionalism. 
His true leader or natural aristocrat, as he terms him, 
has, in his adjustment of the contending claims of new 
and old, much of the character of the “trimmer” as 
Halifax has described him. “By preserving the method 
of nature in the conduct of the State, in what we improve 
we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never 
wholly obsolete.” “The disposition to preserve, and 
ability to improve, taken together, would be my stan- 
dard of a statesman.” In such utterances Burke is of 
course simply giving the theory of English liberty at its 
best, a theory almost too familiar for restatement. In 
his imaginative grasp of all that is involved in the task 
of mediating between the permanent and the fluctuating 


element in life, the Platonic art, as one may say, of see- 
ing the One in the Many, he has had few equals in the 
field of political thinking. 

Burke is, however, in one important respect highly 
un-Platonic, and that is in his attitude towards the in- 
tellect. His distrust of what we should call nowadays 
the intellectual may be variously explained. It is related 
in some respects to one side, the weak side, one is bound 
to add, of Christianity. “A certain intemperance of 
intellect,” he writes, “is the disease of the time, and the 
source of all its other diseases.” He saw so clearly the 
dangers of this abuse that he was led at times, as the 
Christian has at times been led, to look with suspicion 
on intellect itself. And then he was familiar, as we are 
all familiar, with persons who give no reasons at all, or 
the wrong reasons, for doing the right thing, and with 
other persons who give the most logical and ingenious 
reasons for doing the wrong thing. The basis for right 
conduct is not reasoning but experience, and experience 
much wider than that of the individual, the secure pos- 
session of which can result only from the early acquisi- 
tion of right habits. Then, too, there is something speci- 
fically English in Burke’s disparagement of the intellect. 
The Englishman, noting the results of the proneness of a 
certain type of Frenchman to reason rigorously from 
false or incomplete premises, comes to prefer his own 
piecemeal good sense and proclivity for “muddling 
through.” As Disraeli told a foreign visitor, the country 
is governed not by logic but by Parliament. In much 
the same way Bagehot in the course of a comparison be- 
tween the Englishman and the Frenchman in politics, 


reaches the semi-humorous conclusion that “in real 
sound stupidity the English are unrivalled.” 

The anti-intellectual side of Burke reminds one at 
times of the anti-intellectual side of Rousseau : when, for 
instance, he speaks of “ the happy effect of following na- 
ture, which is wisdom without reflection and above it.” 
The resemblance is, however, only superficial. The wis- 
dom that Rousseau proclaimed was not above reflection 
but below it. A distinction of this kind is rather meaning- 
less unless supported by careful psychological analysis. 
Perhaps the first contrast between the superrational 
and the subrational is that between awe and wonder.* 
Rousseau is plainly an apostle of wonder, so much so that 
he is probably the chief single influence in the “renascence 
of wonder” that has resulted from the romantic move- 
ment. The romantic objection to intellect is that by its 
precise analysis and tracing of cause and effect, it dimin- 
ishes wonder. Burke, on the other hand, is fearful lest an 
indiscreet intellectual activity may undermine awe and 
reverence, “We ought,” he says, “to venerate where 
we are unable presently to understand.” As the best 
means of securing veneration, Burke leans heavily upon 
habit, whereas the romantics, from Rousseau to Walter 
Pater, are no less clearly hostile to habit because it seems 
to lead to a stereotyped world, a world without vividness 
and surprise. To lay stress on veneration meant for 
Burke, at least in the secular order, to lay stress on rank 
and degree; whereas the outstanding trait perhaps of the 
state of nature projected by Rousseau’s imagination, 
in defiance of the actual facts of primitive life so far as 
> CL Rousseau and Romanticism, p. 49 f. 


we know them, is that it is equahtarian. This trait is 
common to his no-state and his all-state, his anarchistic 
and his collectivistic Utopia. The world of the “Social 
Contract,” no less than that of the “Second Discourse,” 
is a world without degree and subordination; a world in 
which no one looks up to any one else or expects any 
one to look up to him; a world in which no one (and this 
seems to Rousseau very desirable) has either to com- 
mand or to obey. In his predominant emphasis on 
equality,* Rousseau speaks, to some extent at least, not 
merely for himself but for France, especially the France 
of the last two centuries. “Liberty,” says Mallet du 
Pan, “a thing forever unintelhgible to Frenchmen.” ^ 
Perhaps liberty has not been intelligible in its true es- 
sence to many persons anywhere. “The love, and even 
the very idea, of genuine liberty,” Burke himself admits, 
“is extremely rare.” If the basis of this genuine liberty 
is, as Burke affirms, an act of subordination, it is simply 
incompatible with Rousseauistic equaUty. 

The act of subordination to any earthly authority is 
justified only in case this authority is looking up to 
something still higher; so that genuine liberty is rooted 
in the virtue that also underlies genuine Christianity. 

* It would not be easy to find in an English author of anything 
like the same intellectual distinction the equivalent of the follow- 
ing passage from Proudhon (CEvmes, ii, p. 91): “L’enthousiasme 
qui nous possede, I’enthousiasme de l’6galit6, . . . est une ivresse 
plus forte que le vin, plus p6n6trante que I’amour; passion ou 
fureur divine que le d61ire des L6onidas, des Saint Bernard et des 
Michel-Ange n’6gala jamais.” 

* Cf. E. Faguet, PolUigues el moralistes, vol. i, p. 117: “II est k 
peu pr^s impossible & un Frangais d’etre liberal, et le hb4ralisme 
n’est pas frangais.” See also ibid., in, p. 95. 


“True humility, the basis of the Christian system, is 
the low, but deep and firm foundation of all real virtue. 
But this, as very painful in the practice and little impos- 
ing in the appearance,” he goes on to say of the French 
revolutionists, “they have totally discarded.” They 
have preferred to follow Rousseau, the great “professor 
and founder of the philosophy of vanity.” Rousseau 
himself said that he based his position on the “noblest 
pride,” and pride is, even more than vanity, the signifi- 
cant opposite of humility. I have already spoken of 
Rousseau’s depreciation of humility in favor of patri- 
otic pride. The problem of pride versus humility is, of 
course, not primarily political at all. It is a problem of 
the inner life. Rousseau undermined humility in the in- 
dividual by substituting the doctrine of natural good- 
ness for the older doctrine of man’s sinfulness and falli- 
bility. The forms and traditions, religious and political, 
that Burke on the other hand defends, on the ground 
that they are not arbitrary but are convenient sum- 
mings up of a vast body of past experience, give support 
to the imagination of the individual; the imagination, 
thus drawn back as it were to an ethical centre, supplies 
in turn a standard with reference to which the individual 
may set bounds to the lawless expansion of his natural 
self (which includes his intellect as well as his emotions). 
From a purely psychological point of view, Burke’s em- 
phasis on humility and on the imaginative symbols that 
he deems necessary to secure it, reduces itself to an em- 
phasis on what one may term the centripetal element in 
liberty. Rousseau, at least the Rousseau that has influ- 
enced the world, practically denies the need of any such 


centripetal element in liberty, inasmuch as what will 
emerge spontaneously on the disappearance of the tra- 
ditional controls is an expansive will to brotherhood. 
If one rejects like Bm-ke this gospel of “universal benev- 
olence,” it is hard not to conceive of liberty in Burke’s 
fashion — namely, as a nice adjustment between the 
taking on of inner control and the throwing off of outer 
control. “Society,” he says, “cannot exist unless a con- 
trolling power upon will and appetite be placed some- 
where, and the less of it there is within, the more there 
must be without.” This adjustment between inner and 
outer control, which concerns primarily the individual, 
is thus seen to determine at last the degree to which any 
community is capable of pohtical liberty. True states- 
manship is in this sense a humanistic mediation and not 
an indolent oscillation between extremes. “To make a 
government requires no great prudence. Settle the seat 
of power; teach obedience: and the work is done. To 
give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to 
guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a 
free government — that is, to temper together these oppo- 
site elements of hberty and restraint in one consistent 
work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a saga- 
cious, powerful, and combining mind.” 

I have already said that Burke is very exceptional in 
that he is a splendidly imaginative Whig. As a matter 
of fact, most of the typical Whigs and liberals in the 
Whig tradition, are, like Burke, partisans of liberty in 
the sense of personal liberty and of moderation. They 
do not, however, give their personal hberty and modera- 
tion the same basis of religion and humanistic control 


On the contrary, they incline to be either rationalists or 
emotionalists, which means practically that they foimd 
their ethics either on the principle of utility, or else on 
the new spirit of sjmipathy and service, or more com- 
monly on some compound of these main ingredients of 
humanitarianism. The Uberty of Burke, I have tried to 
show, is not only religiously grounded, but involves in 
its political application a genuine humanistic mediation. 
The Whig compromise, on the other hand, is only too 
often an attempt to compromise between views of life, 
namely, the religious-humanistic and the utiKtarian- 
sentimental, which are in their essence incompatible. 
Thus the liberalism of J. S. Mill is, compared with the 
liberalism of Burke, open to the charge of being un- 
imaginative. Furthermore, from a strictly modem point 
of view, it is open to the charge of being insufficiently 
critical. For the liberty Mill desires is of the kind that 
will result only from the traditional spiritual controls, 
or from some adequate substitute, and his philosophy, 
as I shall try to show more fully later, supphes neither. 

Burke can scarcely be charged with the form of super- 
ficiality that consists in an attempt to mediate between 
incompatible first principles. One may, however, feel 
that he failed to recognize the full extent and gravity of 
the clash between the new principles and the old; and 
one may also find it hard to justify the obscurantist 
element that enters into his defence of his own religious 
and humanistic position. One might gather from Burke 
that England was almost entirely made up of Christian 
gentlemen ready to rally to the support of the majestic 
edifice of traditional civihzation, to all the decencies of 


life based Bnally on the moral imagination, whereas the 
“sophisters, economists, and calculators” who were de- 
stroying this edifice by their substitution for the moral 
imagination of an abstract metaphysical reason were 
almost entirely French. He does indeed refer to the 
English deists, but only to dismiss them as obscure ec- 
centrics. The English intellectuals and radical thinkers 
of his own time he waves aside with the utmost con- 
tempt, opposing to them not those who think more 
keenly, but those who do not think at all. “Because 
half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field 
ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of 
great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British 
oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine 
that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants 
of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; 
or that, after all, they are other than the little, shriv- 
elled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, 
insects of the hour.” 

In this passage we have the obscurantist Burke at his 
weakest. The truth is that the little, meagre, hopping 
insects of the horn were representatives of an interna- 
tional movement of vast scope, a movement destined 
finally to prevail over the prejudice and prescription 
that Burke was defending. Moreover, this movement 
was largely, if not indeed primarily, of English origin. 
“It is from England,” says Joubert, “that have issued 
forth, like fogs, the metaphysical and political ideas 
which have darkened everything.” It is hard to trace 
the main currents of European life and thought from the 
Renaissance, especially the rise of humanitarianism in 


both its utilitarian and its senrimenra! aspects, and not 
assent in large measure to the assertion of Joubert. 
Burke’s conception of man and of the State with its 
strong tinge of Platonic realism fin the older sense of 
the word) and its final emphasis on humility, or sub- 
mission to the will of God, has important points of 
contact with the mediajval conception. Now, even be- 
fore Francis Bacon, men from the British Islands played 
an important part in breaking down this realism. Duns 
Scotus discredited reason in theologt' in favor of an 
arbitrarj’ di\-ine will, and so released reason for use in 
the secular order. William of Occam asserted a nomi- 
nalism that looks forward to our tj’pe of realism, arealism, 
that is, not of the One but of the Many, and, therefore, 
at the opposite pole from the mediaeval variety. Roger 
Bacon is significant for the future both by his interest in 
the physical order and by the experimental temper that 
he displays in dealing with this order. 

To come to a later period, the upshot of the civil con- 
vulsions of seventeenth-century England was to dimin- 
ish imaginative allegiance to the past. The main achieve- 
ment of Cromwell himself was, as his admirer Marvell 
avowed, to “ruin the great work of Time.” As loyalty to 
the great traditions declined, England concentrated on 
the utilitarian effort of which Francis Bacon is the 
prophet, and thus did more than any other country to 
prepare and carry through the industrial revolution, 
compared with which the French Revolution is only a 
melodramatic incident. 

If the Christian classical England that Burke took to 
be truly representative has survived in a place like Ox- 


ford, utilitarian England has got itself embodied in cities 
like Birmingham, so that the opposition between the 
two Englands, an opposition that is one of first princi- 
ples, has come to be written on the very face of the land- 
scape. The Englishman, however, does not proceed by 
logical exclusions, and is capable of maintaining in more 
or less friendly juxtaposition things that are ultimately 
incompatible. Thus a young man receives a religious- 
humanistic training at Oxford as a preparation for help- 
ing to administer the British Empire in India, an em- 
pire which is, in its origins, chiefly an outcome of the 
utilitarian and commercially expansive England. The 
kind of leadership that Burke desired, the leadership of 
the true gentleman, stiU plays no small part in the affairs 
of England and of the world. The Englishman whom he 
conceives to be typical, who “ fears God, looks up with 
awe to kings, with affection to parliaments, with duty to 
magistrates, with reverence to priests, and with respect 
to nobility,” is still extant, but is considerably less typi- 
cal. Above all, his psychology is not that of the great 
urban masses that owe their existence to the industrial 
revolution. What Birmingham stands for has been 
gaining steadily on what Oxford stands for, and that 
even at Oxford itself. I have said that the only effective 
conservatism is an imaginative conservatism. Now it 
has not only become increasingly difficult to enter im- 
aginatively into certain traditional symbols, but in gen- 
eral the imagination has been drawn away more and 
more from the element of unity in things to the element 
of diversity. As a result of the type of progress that has 
been proclaimed, everything good has come to be asso- 


ciated with novelty and change, with the piling up of 
discovery on discovery. Life, thus viewed, no longer in- 
volves any reverence for some centre or oneness, but is 
conceived as an infinite and indefinite ex'pansion of won- 
der and curiosity. As a result of all this intoxication 
with change, the world is moving, we are asked to be- 
lieve, towards some ‘‘far-off divine event.” It is at this 
point that the affinity appears between the utilitarian or 
Baconian, and the emotional or Rousseauistic side of the 
humanitarian movement. The far-off divine event is, 
no less than Rousseau’s state of nature, a projection of 
the idyllic imagination. The felicity of the divine event, 
hke that of the state of nature, is a felicity that can be 
shown to involve no serious moral effort or self-disci- 
pline on the part of the individual. Rousseau himself put 
his golden age in the past, but nothing is easier than to 
be a Rousseauist, and at the same time, like the Baco- 
nian, put one’s golden age in the future. The differences 
between Baconian and Rousseauist, and they are nu- 
merous, are, compared with this underlying similarity in 
the quality of their “vision,” unimportant. I remarked 
at the outset that the modem political movement may 
be regarded in its most significant aspect as a battle be- 
tween the spirit of Rousseau and that of Burke. What- 
ever the explanation, it is an indubitable fact that this 
movement has been away from Burke and towards 
Rousseau. “The star of Burke is manifestly fading,” 
Lecky was able to write a number of years ago, “and a 
great part of the teaching of the ‘ Contrat Social ’ is pass- 
ing into English politics.” Professor Vaughan, again, 
the editor of the recent standard edition of Rousseau’s 


political writings, remarked in his introduction, appar- 
ently without awakening any special contradiction or 
surprise, that in the essentials of political wisdom Burke 
is “ immeasurably inferior to the man of whom he never 
speaks but with scorn and loathing; to the despised the- 
orist, the metaphysical madman of Geneva.” 

Burke will be cherished as long as any one survives in 
the world who has a perception of the nature of true 
liberty. It is evident, however, that if a true liberalism 
is to be successfully defended under present circum- 
stances, it will not be altogether by Burke’s method. 
The battle for prejudice and prescription and a “ wisdom 
above reflection” has already been lost. It is no longer 
possible to wave aside the modernists as the mere noisy 
insects of an hour, or to oppose to an imsound activity 
of intellect mere stolidity and imperviousness to thought 
— the great cattle chewing their cud in the shadow of 
the British oak. But before coming to the question of 
method, we need to consider what the triumph of Rous- 
seau has actually meant in the history of modem Eu- 
rope, during and since the Great Revolution. A survey 
of this kind will be found to involve a consideration of 
the two chief political problems of the present time, the 
problem of democracy and the problem of imperialism, 
both in themselves and in their relation to one another. 



In our recent crusade to make the world safe for democ- 
racy it was currently assumed that democracy is the 
same as liberty and the opposite of imperialism. The 
teachings of historj'^ are strangely different. D emocr acy 
in the sense of direct and unlimited democracgys, as was 
pointedf out long ago by Aristotle, the de^h^gfJLibjefty; 
in virtue of its tjTannical teiuper, it is likewise, in the 
broad sense in which I have been using the term, closely 
akin to imperialism. Now the distinction of Rousseau 
is, as'we'bave seen, to have been the most uncompro- 
mising of all modern theorists of direct democracy. 
How far have the actual results of Rousseauism justified 
Aristotle rather than those who have anticipated from 
the diffusion of the Rousseauistic evangel, a paradise of 
liberty, equality, and fraternity? The commanding 
position of Rousseau in the democratic movement is 
at all events beyond question, though even here it is 
possible to exaggerate. “Democracy,” says M. de 
Vogu6, “has only one father — Rousseau. . . . The great 
muddy stream which is submerging us flows from the 
writings and the life of Rousseau like the Rhine and the 
Po from the Alpine reservoirs which feed them perpetu- 
ally.” ^ It is interesting to place alongside of this and 
.similar passages which might be multiplied indefi- 
> ItUrodudion it V I eonographie de J.-J. Rousseau, i, pp. vii-viii. 


nitely, passages^ from German authorities, likewise 
very numerous, to the effect that Rousseau is more than 
any other person the father of their Kultur. Here, too, 
one must allow for an element of exaggeration. Much in 
Germany that is often ascribed to Rousseau may be 
traced to Enghsh influences, the same influences that 
acted on Rousseau himself. 

Passages of the kind I have just cited seem to estab- 
lish a first connection between KuUur, which has come 
to be regarded as in its essence imperialistic, and Rous- 
eeauistic democracy. Kultur, when closely scrutinized, 
breaks up into two main elements — on the one hand, 
scientific efficiency, and on the other, a nationahstic en- 
thusiasm to which this efficiency is made to minister. 
The relationship to Rousseauism must evidently be 
looked for first of all in the second of these elements, that 
of nationalistic enthusiasm. One needs to recall here a 
saying of Renan’s that goes back to the seventies of the 
last century. “The sentiment of nationalities is not a 
hundred years old in the world.” ^ Renan might have 
said with about equal truth that international or cosmo- 
politan sentiment is likewise not a hundred years old. 
Both sayings are approximately true, provided sufficient 
emphasis is put on the word sentiment. One scarcely 
needs to repeat that the Middle Ages were cosmopolitan, 
and that a chief result of Protestantism was the develop- 
ment of the national idea, and that the national idea 
was also promoted, though on different postulates, by 

* I have cited some of these passages in Rousseau and Romanii- 
cism, p. 194 n. 

* Riiorms intellectuelle et nwrak, p. 194. 


Machiavelli. But with the eighteenth centmy, nation- 
alism and internationalism take on a more emotional 
coloring. An underlying influence here is Rousseau’s rein- 
terpretation of “virtue,” a reinterpretation that is itself, 
as I have tried to show, the outgrowth of a considerable 
previous movement. According to the new ethics, vir- 
tue is not restrictive but expansive, a sentiment and even 
an intoxication. In its unmodified natural form, it has 
its basis in pity which may finally develop into the vir- 
tue of the great cosmopolitan souls of whom he speaks 
in the “Second Discourse,” who transcend national 
frontiers and embrace the whole of the human race in 
their benevolence. We are here at the headwaters of 
the sentimental internationalism of the past century. 
But Rousseau, as I have already said, distmguishes 
sharply betw’een the virtue of man simply as man and 
the virtue of the citizen. When man is “denatured” by 
entering the State, his virtue is still a sentiment and 
even an intoxication, but is very far from being cosmo- 
politan. Rousseau oscillates between the two types of 
virtue, that of the man and that of the citizen, and can 
scarcely be said to have attempted a serious mediation 
between them. According as he wants the one or the 
other type of “virtue,” he devises different systems of 
education. In “Emile,” for example, he sets out to 
make a man, in the “ Considerations on the Government 
of Poland,” a citizen. The love of country and the love 
of mankind are, he declares, incompatible passions.* 
What is Rousseau's own choice, one may ask, as between 
an emotional nationalism and an emotional intemation- 
* See Pohtical Writings (Vaughan), n, p. 172. 


alism? On this point no doubt is possible. The love of 
country he takes to be the more beautiful passion. The 
virtuous intoxication of the internationalist seems to 
him pale and ineffectual compared with the virtuous in- 
toxication of the citizen; and herein history has cer- 
tainly confirmed him. The fact that I’ivresse patriotigue 
may make the citizens of one country ruthless in their 
dealings with the citizens of other countries seems to 
him a matter of small moment.^ In his schemes for in- 
breeding patriotic sentiment, he seems to be looking 
forward to the type of nationalism that has actually 
emerged during the last century, especially perhaps in 
Germany. The question of war becomes acute if Eu- 
rope, and possibly the world, is thus to be made up of 
states, each animated by what one is tempted to term a 
frenzied nationalism, without any countervailing prin- 
ciple of unity. That the new nationalism is more potent 
than the new internationalism was revealed in August, 
1914, when millions of socialists, in response to the call 
of country, marched away to the slaughter of their fellow 
socialists in other lands. That Protestant unity has like- 
wise proved inadequate seems sufficiently clear from the 
fact that the men of the two chief Protestant countries, 
at the same time that they were blowing one another to 
pieces with high explosives, sought to starve one an- 
other’s women and children en masse. The Papacy 
again, representing the traditional unity of European 
civilization, has also shown itself unable to limit effect- 
ively the push of nationalism. 

1 See the opening paragraphs of Emile (“Tout patriote est dur 
aux strangers,’’ etc.). 


Furthermore, nationalities of the kind that have 
grown up in modem Europe will not, as Rousseau points 
out, be kept from fighting with one another by treaties 
and alliances. He warns the Poles that among the Chris- 
tian nations, treaties and alliances are only scraps of 
paper, though the Turks, he adds, show a little more 
respect for their international obligations. 

Rousseau had this order of problems forced upon his 
attention when he made his “Abridgment” (1761) of 
the Abb4 de Saint-Pierre’s “Project for Perpetual 
Peace” (originally published in 1712-17) and wrote his 
“Judgment” on the “Project” (published in 1782). The 
Abb6 de Saint-Pierre sought to revive the plan for a 
United States of Europe (le Grand Dessein) that Sully 
attributes to Henry IV. Rousseau shows much shrewd- 
ness in reviewing in connection with his editing of Saint- 
Pierre the problem of peace and war in Europe from the 
Middle Ages down. One institution, he admits, had 
done much in the past to lessen political conflicts. It is 
undeniable, he says, that Europe owes to Christianity 
above aJI, even to-day, the species of union that has sur- 
vived among its members. He goes on to say, antici- 
pating Heine and following Hobbes, that Rome, having 
suffered material defeat, sent her dogmas instead of her 
legions into the provinces. To this spiritual Rome, me- 
diaeval and modern Europe has owed what small equivar 
lent it has enjoyed of the Pax romana. The ultimate 
h indin g element in the mediaeval order was subordina- 
tion to the divine will and its earthly representatives, 
notably the Pope. The latter Middle Ages and the Re- 
naissance saw a weakening of this principle of umon and 


the rise of great territorial nationalities. According to 
the school of Grotius, the relations of these nationalities 
are to be regulated primarily not by will in any sense, 
but by reason. The Abbd de Saint-Pierre, perhaps the 
earliest complete French example of the professional 
philanthropist, has a still more naive confidence in rea- 
son. He saw well enough, says Rousseau, how his 
schemes would work if they were once established, but 
was childish (and herein he resembled other “reform- 
ers ” down to the present day) in his notions of the means 
for getting them established. His fundamental error, 
Rousseau complains, was in thinking that men are gov- 
erned by their reason, when they are in reality governed 
by their passions.^ 

For Rousseau the state of nature is not in any case a 
state of reason. In his less idyllic moods, he inclines, so 
far as the relation of nation to nation is concerned, to 
agree with Hobbes that it is a state of war. As a remedy 
he seems to favor some such application of the federa- 
tive principle as a league of nations or a league to enforce 
peace. He shows, however, a much more lively sense of 
the perils of such schemes than some of their modem ad- 
vocates. “It might do more harm at a stroke,” he says 
of a league to enforce peace, “than it could prevent for 
centuries.” Though approving of the “Grand Dessein” 
of Henry IV, he saw that the driving power behind this 
scheme was neither Christian, in the mediseval sense, 
nor again, humanitarian, but imperialistic — the desire 
to abase Spain and the House of Austria, and to exalt 
France to the hegemony of Europe. Henry IV was pre- 
* Political Writings (Vaughan), i, p. 392 n. 


paring a war which was to end war, when his assassina- 
tion took place, and “banished forever the last hope of 
the world.’’ Rousseau foresees that the states of Europe 
are destined to ruin themselves by their military prepa- 
rations. He leaves us, in short, without any adequate 
solution of a problem, that of the centrifugal nation- 
ality, which he himself was doing so much to intensify. 

Though Rousseau can speak on occasion with positive 
contempt of cosmopolitans, he can be shown to have ex- 
ercised his main influence on those who began by stand- 
ing, both nationally and internationally, for fraternity, 
a fraternity that was to be ideally combined with liberty 
and equality. We need to trace briefly the imperialistic 
upshot of this evangel, especially in the French Revolu- 
tion, and then, turning away from the more peripheral 
aspects of the relation between democracy and imperial- 
ism, to try to get at the root of the whole matter in the 
psychologj' of the individual. 

Rousseau, we have seen, seeks to discredit not merely 
a particular aristocracy, but the aristocratic principle in 
general. “The people,” he saj'B, “constitute the human 
race”; all that is not the people is parasitic and 
“scarcely deserves to be counted were it not for the 
harm it does.” Perhaps no doctrine has ever been more 
cunningly devised to fill the poor man and the plebeian 
with self-righteous pride, and at the same time to inflame 
him with hatred and suspicion of those who enjoy any 
social or economic superiority. It is a curious fact, 
known to all students of the period, that those who per- 
haps did the most to promote Rousseauism, and in gen- 
eral the new philanthropy, were the members of the 


privileged classes themselves. The causes of this strange 
phenomenon are complex, but have been traced with 
sufficient accuracy by Taine in his “Ancien Regime.” 
The members of the French aristocracy, and that as far 
back as Richelieu and Louis XIV, had largely ceased to 
perform the work of an aristocracy. They had become 
drawing-room butterflies and hangers-on at court. Now 
the enemy of those who have ceased to work, in some 
sense or other of the word, has always been ennui; and 
in addition, the denizens of the drawing-room suffered 
during the first half of the eighteenth century from ra- 
tionalistic dryness and an excess of artificial decorum. 
They finally sought relief in a return to nature and the 
simple life. An idyllic element had been present in the 
life of the drawing-room from the start, as all know who 
have studied the influence of d’Urf^’s "Astr^e” on the 
Marquise de Rambouillet and her group; and this per- 
haps made the way easier for another form of pastoral- 
ism. “The fops,” as Taine phrases it, “dreamt between 
two madrigals of the happiness of sleeping naked in the 
virgin forest.” Marie Antoinette milked her own cows 
and lived the pastoral dream at the Petit Trianon. 
Many of the nobles and higher clergy, won over to the 
new enthusiasm, took oath to divest themselves of 
all the privileges of rank in favor of the new equality 
which was itself to be only a preliminary to the golden 
dawn of brotherhood. The advent of this brotherhood 
was actually celebrated in the Federation of the Champ 
de Mars (1790) which was meant to symbolize the melt- 
ing of all Frenchmen together in a fraternal embrace. 
Anacharsis Cloots, the “orator of h umankin d,” had 


representatives of the different races and nations of 
the Earth, each appropriately garbed, parade before the 
National Assembly as the symbol of a still more univer- 
sal fraternity. “Never,” says the Comte dcSegur, “were 
more delightful dreams followed by a more terrible 
awakening.” Instead of universal brotherhood there was 
a growing mania of suspicion. The malady of Rousseau 
became epidemic, imtil, at the height of the Terror, 
men were “suspect of being suspect.” The very persons 
who had rushed into one another’s arms at the Feder- 
ation of the Champ de Mars began to guillotine one 
another. In the number of those who thus perished was 
the “orator of humankind.” Among the earhest victims 
were the members of the privileged classes who had 
been so zealous in promoting the new philanthropy, just 
as the parlor socialists of our own day would be among 
the first to suffer if the overturn they are preaching 
shoidd actually occur. As Chesterton says, if the social 
revolution takes place, the streets will run red with the 
blood of philanthropists. 

If one wishes to enter into the psychology of the later 
stages of the Revolution, one should devote special at- 
tention to avowed disciples of Rousseau like Robes- 
pierre. He adopts in a rather uncompromising form 
Rousseau’s view of “virtue,” and so is led to set up an 
“ideal” France over against the real France, and this 
“ideal” France is largely a projection of what I have 
termed the idyllic imagination. The opposition that he 
estabhshed between the virtuous and the vicious is even 
less an opposition between virtuous and vicious individ- 
uals than between whole classes of individuals. The 


judging of men by their social grouping rather than by 
their personal merits and demerits, that seemed to 
Burke so iniquitous, has, as a matter of fact, been im- 
plicit in the logic of this movement from the French to 
the Russian Revolution. Danton already says: “These 
priests, these nobles are not guilty, but they must die, 
because they are out of place, interfere with the move- 
ment of things, and mil stand in the way of the future.” 
Danton, so far as he was responsible for the September 
Massacres, made some application of this revolutionary 
logic. Leaders like Robespierre and Saint-Just, however, 
developed it far more than Danton into a programme of 
wholesale proscription. The actual France was too rich 
and populous. Robespierre and Saint-Just were ready 
to eliminate violently whole social strata that seemed to 
them to be made up of parasites and conspirators, in 
order that they might adjust this actual France to the 
Sparta of their dreams; so that the Terror was far more 
than is commonly realized a bucolic episode.* It lends 

* Cf. Chateaubriand, Mimoires d'Outre-Tombe, n, pp. 12-14: 
“Tandis que la trag^die rougissait les rues, la bergerie florissait 
au theSitre; il n’fitait question que d’innocents pasteurs et de 
virginales pastourelles: champs, ruisseaux, prairies, moutons, 
colombes, dge d’or sous le chaume, revivaient aux soupirs du 
pipeau devant les roucoulants Tircis et les naives tricoteuses qui 
Sortaient du spectacle de la guillotine. Si Sanson en avait eu le 
temps, il aurait joufi le rdle de Colin, ct Mademoiselle Thfiroigne de 
M4ricourt eelui de Babet. Les Conventionnels se piquaient d’Stre 
les plus bdnins des hommes; bons pSres, bona fils, bons maris, ils 
menaient promener les petits enfants; ils leur servaient de nour- 
rices; ils pleuraient de tendresse k leurs simples jeux; ils prenaient 
doucement dans leurs bras ces petits agneaux, ato de leur montrer 
le dada des charrettes qui conduisaient les victimes au supplies. 
Ils chantaient la nature, la paix, la pitifi, la bienfaisance, la can- 
dour, les vertus domestiques; ces b4ats de philanthropie faisaient 
couper le cou k leurs voisins avec une extreme sensibility, pour le 
plus grand bonheur de I’espSce humaine.” 


color to the assertion that has been made that the last 
stage of sentimentalism is homicidal mania. 

In theory, Robespierre is, like Rousseau, rigidly equal- 
itarian. He is not a real leader at all — only the people's 
“hired man.” But at critical moments, in the name of 
an ideal general will, of which he professes to be only the 
organ, he is ready to impose tyrannically his will on the 
actual people. The net result of the Rousseauistic move- 
ment is thus not to get rid of leadership, but to produce 
an inferior and even insane type of leadership, and in any 
case leadership of a highly imperialistic type. This tri- 
umph of force can be shown to be the total outcome of 
liberty, equality, and fraternity in the Rousseauistic 
sense. Rousseau himself, as we have seen, would force 
people to be free. The attempt to combine freedom with 
equality led, and, according to Lord Acton, always will 
lead, to terrorism. As for Jacobinical fraternity, it has 
been summed up in the phrase; “Be my brother or I’ll 
kill you.” Moreover, the clash of a leader like Robes- 
pierre is not only with enemies of the Revolution, but 
with other more or less sincere revolutionary fanatics 
whose imaginations are projecting different “ideals." 
The sole common denominator of leaders thus obstinate, 
each in the pursuit of a separate dream, is force. The 
movement had repudiated the traditional controls, and 
so far as any new principle of cohesion was concerned, 
had turned out to be violently centrifugal. The only 
brotherhood the Jacobinical leaders had succeeded in 
founding was, as Taine puts it, a brotherhood of Cains. 

Robespierre, however, was not the type of leader 
finally destined to emerge from the Revolution. As early 


as 1790 Burke had predicted that the Revolution would 
turn at last to the profit of some military adventurer. 
The doctrine of popular sovereignty as developed from 
the “Social Contract” had been found to encourage a 
sort of chronic anarchy. Inasmuch as society cannot 
go on without discipline of some kind, men were con- 
strained, in the absence of any other form of discipline, 
to turn to discipline of the militaiy type. In the army it 
was still possible to find the orderly subordination and 
loyalty to acknowledged merit that the Jacobins had, on 
principle, been undermining in civil France. Bonaparte 
is therefore no accident. He is the true heir and executor 
of the Revolution. After his grenadiers had chased 
members of the Cinq-Cents through the doors and out 
of the windows of the Orangerie at Saint-Cloud (18 
Brumaire), and when he had revealed himself more and 
more nakedly as the imperialistic superman, it is not to 
be supposed that the Jacobins as a body stood aloof. 
What became apparent, on the contrary, was the afiinity 
that has always existed between an unlimited democracy 
and the cult of ruthless power. No one crawled more 
abjectly at the feet of Napoleon than some of the quon- 
dam Terrorists. “On the point of becoming barons and 
counts, the Jacobins spoke only of the horrors of 1793, 
of the necessity of punishing the proletarians and of re- 
pressing popular excesses. From day to day there was 
taking place the transformation of republicans into im- 
perialists and of the tyranny of all into the despotism 
of a single man.” ^ 

L Chateaubriand’s disapproval of Napoleon was inefiec- 
* Chateaubriand, Memoirea d’Outre-Torribe, n, p. 243. 


tive, one may note in pas^g. because Hs head ivas hd: 
in accord wiih his hean. He wss m. so^ret s;.mo..ijTh'r 
wiib XapoJeon because o: a iikenese tha* he rex’cmrei 
beiween the Xapoleonic quslinr cf ur.a^a*i:rL and his 
own. Tlie injiaginations of bohh men ■preie, in a aeiisse dliat. 
I haTe soi:g,bt tc define elsewhere rrmantie: they were 
strsininE, though along ver.' diftrent dnes, out towarfs 
the unlimited. 'Victor Hugo arum. CrnoiiiinaceiiiKapoilbDm 
as the author of the i? p-:- - x ot i at tise saaie tmie 
was so lasoinated by r '• t unamjt.vtl”, ticatt fee wascsne 
of the chief artificers of the Xaprieton..' legend. 

I have been tning to make (.lear the relation heSmera 
Eousseauistic demoLraty and iniptnalisinGi in Ftanioe 
itself. The same reluiitnsbp arpears if we stiuniy tlse 
Eouiseanis'k mevement inreriLattrnjJly. Peslaps no 
movenien* sife the beginning o: the worH kas W to 
Btiic-h an inbreeJing :f n_‘i;nal sen’uiseat of lie type 
that in the larger states runs :v;r verr readily into im- 
perialistic ambttitn. I have said that ifee BeviolHti'aa 
almost ircni *he start toon cn tne naracier of a univiap- 
sal CTjsade. The first principles i: .tssumed made prae- 
ticaily all existing gevemments setni iiegiliiiiiate. The 
various peoples were inwed to overt hiow these gpivern- 
ments, based upC'S usurpanen. and. haviiig raroveiwi 
their original rights, to join with France in a glDtiio#iis 
fraternity. What followed is almost too familiar to need 
repetition. Some of the govenunents whose legitimjacy 
was thus called into question took alaim and, having 
entered into an allianoe, invaded France.* This foreagn 

* Both njonaichists and revotatioiiaTy ideaKst® had of esmae 
oUier motiTeein additim to those they professed. For this whole 


menace moved France to the first great burst of national 
enthusiasm in the modem sense. The cry of the revolu- 
tionary army — Vive la jwiion — heard by Goethe in 
a pause of the cannonading of Valmy — was rightly 
taken by him to mark the dawn of a new era.^ The be- 
ginnings of the very type of warfare we have recently 
been witnessing in Europe, that is, the coming together 
of whole nations for mutual massacre Qa levee en masse), 
go back to this period. The new national enthusiasm 
supplied France with soldiers so numerous and so spir- 
ited that she not only repelled her invaders, but began 
to invade other countries in turn, theoretically on a mis- 
sion of emancipation. In the actual stress of events, 
however, the will to power turned out to be stronger 
than the will to brotherhood, and what had begun as a 
humanitarian crusade ended in Napoleon and imperial- 
istic aggression. This aggression awakened in turn the 
new national sentiment in various countries, and did 
more than all other agencies combined to prepare the 
way for a powerful and united Germany.- France 
ceased to be the “Christ of nations” and became the 
traitor to humankind universally denounced by the 
disillusioned radicals of the time, especially after the 
invasion of Switzerland (1798).® 

period, see E. Bourgeois, Manvel historic de politique Uranghe, 
II, pp. 1-184. 

‘ According to M. Chuquet, the remark of Goethe to which I 
refer dates from 1820 and not from the evening of the battle (20 
Sep., 1792). See article in Revue hebdomadaire, 18 D6c., 1915. 

“ “La Revolution frangaise fut le fait generateur de I’idee de 
I’unite allemande.” Renan, Riforme inteUectuelle et morale, p. 130. 

® See Coleridge’s France: on Ode. For corresponding German 
developments, see G. P. Gooch, Germany and the Frendi Revolutim, 


Any one who rejects the humanitarian theory of 
brotherhood runs the risk of being accused of a lack 
of fraternal feeling. The obvious reply of the person of 
critical and experimental temper is that, if he rejects the 
theory, it is precisely because he desires brotherhood. 
After an experience of the theoiy that has already ex- 
tended over several generations, the world would seem 
at times to have become a vast seething mass of hatred 
and suspicion. What Carlyle wrote of the Revolution 
has not ceased to be applicable: "Beneath this rose- 
colored veil of universal benevolence is a dark, conten- 
tious, hell-on-earth.” One is finally led to the conviction 
that the contrast between the ideal and the real in this 
movement is not the ordinary contrast between the will- 
ingness of the spirit and the weakness of the flesh; that 
on the contrary this particular ideal of union among men 
actually promotes the reality of strife that it is supposed 
to prevent. One might without being too fanciful estab- 
lish a sort of synchronism between the prevalence of 
pacifistic schemes and the actual outbreak of war. The 
propaganda of the Abbe de Saint-Pierre was followed by 
the wars of Frederick the Great. The humanitarian 
movement of the end of the eighteenth century, which 
found expression in Kant’s treatise on Perpetual Peace, 
was followed and attended by twenty years of the 
bloodiest fighting the world has ever known. The paci- 
fist agitation of the early twentieth centuiy, that found 
outer expression in the Peace Palace at The Hague, was 
succeeded by battle lines hundreds of miles long. The 
late M. Boutroux, whom no one will accuse of being a 
cynic, said to a reporter of the “Temps” in 1912 that 


from the amount of peace talk abroad, he inferred that 
the future was likely to be “supremely warlike and 
bloody.” In the matter of war and peace, as elsewhere, 
the humanitarian, to be sure, has an ever-ready explanar 
tion for all the failures of his theory to work: it would, he 
insists, have worked beautifully if it had not been for 
this or that conspiracy. Nothing short of the suicide of 
the planet would avail to convince certain humanitari- 
ans that anything is wrong with their theory — and 
even then, the last surviving humanitarian would no 
doubt continue to moan “conspiracy.” 

From a strictly psychological point of view, the move- 
ment we are studying had not only produced all its 
characteristic fruits over a hundred years ago, but also 
its two outstanding and truly significant personalities — 
Rousseau and Napoleon. If there had been no Rous- 
seau, Napoleon is reported to have said, there would 
have been no Revolution, and without the Revolution, 
I should have been impossible. Now Rousseau may be 
regarded as being more than any other one person the 
humanitarian Messiah. Napoleon, for his part, may be 
defined, in Hardy’s phrase, as the Christ of War. So 
that the humanitarian Messiah set in motion forees that 
led by a process that I have attempted to sketch in rough 
general outline to the rise of a Christ of War. 

A remarkable feature of the humanitarian movement, 
on both its sentimental and utilitarian sides, has been 
its preoecupation with the lot of the masses. “All in- 
stitutions,” says Condorcet, for example, “ought to 
have for their aim the physical, intellectual, and moral 
amelioration of the poorest and most numerous class.” 


But on the utilitarian no less than on the sentimental 
side of the movement, the contrast between the ideal 
and the real is so flagrant as to suggest some central 
omission in humanitarian psychology. If the Rousseau- 
ist set up an ideal of universal brotherhood that led ac- 
tually to universal conscription, the utilitarian for his 
part has put prime emphasis on material organization 
and efficiency and so, with the aid of physical science, 
has gradually built up an enormous mass of interlocking 
machinery which was, in theorj', to serve humanity and 
promote the greatest good of the greatest number, but 
has in practice been pressed into the service of the will 
to power of individuals and social groups and nationali- 
ties. As a result of the coming together of the various 
factors I have enumerated, war has become almost in- 
conceivably maleficent. The chief victims have been the 
very masses whom both Rousseauist and Baconian have 
professed themselves so eager to benefit. The clashes 
between states and coalitions of states have, under exist- 
ing conditions, become clashes between Frankenstein 
monsters. One should recollect that the Frankenstein 
monster was not, as is commonly supposed, a soulless 
monster. On the contrary, as depicted by Mrs. Shelley, 
he is, in the Rousseauistic sense, a beautiful soul — pos- 
sibly as a result of having learned to read from works 
like the “Sorrows of Werther.” ^ He becomes ruthless 
only when the beauty of his soul and his yearnings for 
sympathy are unappreciated by others and he is forced 
back into psychic solitude. Here again the last stage of 
sentimentaUsm is homicidal mania. 

‘ See Frankenstein, or The Modem Prometheus, ch. 15. 


The whole Occident, and increasingly, indeed, the 
whole world, is now faced with a similar problem as to 
the quality of the “soul” that animates the vast mech- 
anism of material efficiency, to the building up of which 
the Occident has for several generations past been de- 
voting its main effort. Is this “soul” a Rousseauistic or 
a genuinely ethical “soul”? One is tempted to define 
the civilization (or what we are pleased to term such) 
that has been emerging with the decline of the tradi- 
tional controls as a mixture of altruism and high explo- 
sives. If anything is amiss w’ith the altruism, the results 
may prove to be rather serious. The idealists affirm 
either that man is so lovely in his natural self that he 
needs no control at all, or else that he can be induced to 
exercise the necessary control with reference to the good 
of his fellows. Everything hinges, in either case, on the 
presence in the natural man of an element of love or will 
to service that is of itself a sufficient counterpoise to the 
natural man’s will to power. Here is the dividing line 
between egoists and altruists, and not merely in the 
appeal to utility. The principle of the greatest good of 
the greatest number is, as has been pointed out, asserted 
by Machiavelli himself.' 

Now the facts in this debate as to the relative strength 
in the natural man of the will to brotherhood and the 
will to power seem, on an impartial survey, to favor the 
Machiavellians rather than the “idealists.” Those who 
so pride themselves on being forward-looking should 
have a special cult for Machiavelli. He has claims to be 

' See Mandragola, Act 3, Scene 4. The application of the prin- 
ciple in this particular passage is, however, ironical. 


regarded as the moat successful of all the forward-look- 
ers. In the phrase of Gervinus, "he guessed the spirit of 
modem history.” The last war has been correctly de- 
scribed as a “ return of MachiaveUi.” But with the prog- 
ress that science has made, and is constantly making in 
“improving the mystery of murder,” so that it is already 
possible apparently to destroy great cities in a few min- 
utes from the air, it should be evident even to the most 
obtuse that we cannot afford to allow MachiaveUi to 
return. One or two more such returns on a large scale 
wiU, under existing conditions, mean the end of white 
civilization, and possibly of the white race itself. A gross 
and palpable error of the era that is just closing has been 
its confusion of mechanical and material progress with 
moral progress. Physical science is exceUent m its own 
place, but when supreme moral issues are involved, it is, 
as has been rightly remarked, only a multiplying device.^ 
If there is rightness at the centre, it wiU no doubt multi- 
ply the rightness. If, on the other hand, there is any 
central error, the peripheral repercussion, with men 
bound together as they are at present, wiU be terrific. 
With the development of inventions like the radio and 
the wireless telephone, the whole world is becoming, in 
a veiy literal sense, a whispering-gallery. It is hardly 
necessary to dilate on what is likely to foUow if the words 
that are whispered are words of hatred and suspicion. 
An increasing material union among men who remain 
spirituaUy centrifugal means a return of MachiaveUi, 

* This point has been well made' by Mr.' J. Middleton Murry 
in his essay on The Naiure of CivUizalion (The Evolution of an 
Intellectual, p. 168). 


a triumph in other words of the law of cunning and the 
law of force, on a scale to which the past has seen no par- 
allel. Superlatives are dangerous things, but one is per- 
haps justified in describing the present situation as one 
of unexampled gravity. 

In dealing with democracy and the special type of 
fraternity it has preached, as related to imperiahsm, I 
have thus far been confining myself for the most part to 
the national and international phases of this relation- 
ship. It is time to fulfil my promise, and, working in 
from the periphery towards the centre, seek to get at the 
root of the whole matter in the psychology of the indi- 
vidual. For behind all imperialism is ultimately the 
imperialistic individual, just as behind all peace is ulti- 
mately the peaceful individual. 

I have already made a distinction of the first impor- 
tance for the study of the question of war or peace in 
terms of the individual, and that is the distinction be- 
tween the traditional Christian conception of hberty, 
which implies spiritual subordination, and the Rous- 
seauistic conception which, whether we take it in the no- 
state of the “Second Discourse” or the all-state of the 
“Social Contract,” is resolutely equalitarian. At the 
end of his “Prometheus Unbound” Shelley has por- 
trayed in the very spirit of the “Second Discourse” the 
paradise that is to result from the abolition of the tradi- 
tional subordinations and inequalities: 

The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains 
Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man 
Equal, unclassed, tribeless and nationless, 

Exempt from awe, worship, degree. 


But on any attempt to carry out this programme, the 
enormous irony and contradiction at the very heart of 
this movement becomes manifest. It leads one to break 
down standards in the real world in favor of purely 
chimerical ideals. For what actually follows the attempt 
to establish equalitarian liberty, we need to turn from 
Shelley to Shakespeare: 

Take but degree away, untune that string, 

And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets 
In mere oppugnancy: 

Then every thing includes itself in power, 

Power into will, will into appetite. 

This last line reminds one of a remark of Jeremy 
Taylor that, in the absence of ethical control, “men 
know no good but to please a wild, indetermined, in- 
finite appetite.” The word infinite adds an essential idea. 
Other animals have appetite, but within certain definite 
bounds, whereas man is, either in the good or bad sense, 
the infinite animal. Machiavelli is very metaphorical 
when he speaks of his prince as combining the virtues of 
the lion and the fox. The lion and the fox do not put 
forth their power or cunning beyond what is needed for 
the satisfaction of their actual physical wants. They do 
not strive to set up a vulpine or leonine empire over 
other animals. One cannot truthfully say of them, as 
Carlyle says of his boot-black, that, if given half the uni- 
verse, they will soon be quarrelling with the owner of 
the other half. To be sure, as Swift remarks. 

Now and then 

Beasts may degen’rate into men. 


But, as a rule, the man who is infinite after the fashion 
of Carlyle’s boot-black is in a fair way to become not 
beastly, but fiendish. As a result of his infinitude, man 
is almost necessarily either better or worse than other 
animals. His prime need is not, as in the case of other 
animals, to satisfy certain limited physical wants, but 
to keep in good conceit with himself. Now it is of the 
essence of conceit, a word which, as once used, was syn- 
onymous with imagination in general, and as now used 
is nearly related to the egocentric type of imagination, 
to strain out towards the unlimited. This conceit is, it is 
to be feared, closely associated in unregenerate man with 
envy and jealousy of any one whose conceit seems to set 
up rival pretensions to his own. Conceit also determines 
largely man’s attitude towards the truth. Truth accord- 
ing to the natural law he welcomes because it ministers 
to his power or comfort and in any case piques his won- 
der and curiosity. Spiritual truth is less welcome be- 
cause it diminishes his conceit. Truth in this sense, as 
Goethe says, is less congenial to human nature than er- 
ror, because it imposes limitations, whereas error does 
not. Tell the average person that some one is planning 
to get into wireless communication with Mars, or to 
shoot a rocket at the moon, and he is all respectful in- 
terest and attention at once. Tell him, on the contrary, 
that he needs, in the interest of his own happiness, to 
walk in the path of humility and self-control, and he will 
be indifferent, or even actively resentful. 

Man’s conceit, and the tendency towards imlimited 
expansion that it gives to the impulses of the natural 
man, is of various types. Perhaps as good a classifica- 


tion as any of the main types is that of the three lusts 
distinguished by traditional Christianity — the lust of 
knowledge, the lust of sensation, and the lust of power. 
It is interesting to study the lust of power as it has ap- 
peared in the conquerors and great military adventurers 
of history. Saint-Evremond has made some penetrating 
observations on this form of imperiahstic psychology in 
his “Dissertation on the word Vast.” The vastness that 
the great dominators have displayed in their projects 
and ambitions is due, as he points out, to the quality of 
their imaginations. The outward straining of the imag- 
ination towards the unlimited Saint-Evremond takes to 
be the weakness and not the strength of a Pyrrhus, an 
Alexander and a Richeheu. It is a pity that Saint-Evre- 
mond was not able to extend his scrutiny to a Napoleon. 
Napoleon plainly displayed two entirely different types 
of “vision”: in dealing with the natural order, in plan- 
ning a battle, for instance, he showed himself capable of 
a tremendous concentration upon the facts; but in his 
political ambitions, where factors of a more purely hu- 
man order came into play, he revealed an inability to 
limit his imagination that was destined sooner or later 
to result in disaster. The coming together of the two 
kinds of vision I have just defined gives a type with 
which we have become very familiar, not only in our 
political and military, but in our commercial leaders — 
that of the eflficient megalomaniac. A surprising num- 
ber of these leaders have been, in intention at least, 
supermen, and little Napoleons. 

Assuming that Napoleon’s imagination is of the 
general type that Saint-Evremond ascribes to various 


great dominators of the past, we still have to explain, if 
we are to understand the triumph of the imperialistic 
push for power over Rousseauistic idealism, why a Na- 
poleon so captivates the imagination of other men; for 
this sort of leader would evidently be helpless imless he 
had many accomplices. The Rousseauist, I have said, 
breaks down traditional controls without setting up new 
ones. What emerges in the many men who have as a 
result lapsed to the naturalistic level is not the will to 
brotherhood, but the will to power; so that in this sense 
the Rousseauist is actually promoting what he is in 
theory seeking to prevent. For what follows we need to 
make an application of Freudian psychology to a libido 
even more fundamental perhaps than the libido with 
which the Freudians themselves have thus far been 
chiefly concerned — namely, the libido dominandi. In 
a naturalistic era, the average man finds himself more or 
less in the state of Carlyle’s boot-black, but is at the 
same time hampered on every side and kept from ex- 
panding freely along the lines of power, and is thus 
diminished in his conceit of himself. He suffers from re- 
pressed and thwarted desire. But what he is unable to 
get directly, he may secure vicariously. At this point 
one begins to perceive the meaning of Hardy’s descrip- 
tion of Napoleon as the Christ of War. The spell that 
Napoleon exercised was not merely over the former 
Jacobins of whom Chateaubriand speaks, but over the 
French masses. Let one reflect on the way these masses 
rallied to him on the return from Elba, and that, too, 
after he had wrought them almost incalculable evil: 

Bien, dit-on, qu’il nous ait nui, 

Le peuple encore le r6v6re, etc. 


I have said that to look on the State of Burke with its 
etliical leadership as merely “pooled self-esteem” is mis- 
leading. The phrase has a certain relevancy, however, 
when applied to the State that is under Napoleonic 
leadership. The intrusion of this imperialistic element is 
strong not only in all secular estabhshments, but also in 
the churches of the world, if only because these churches, 
however immaculate they may be in theory, are ad- 
ministered by human beings. It is not easy to overlook 
this element in the Papacy, even though one does not 
go so far as to say roundly with Tjurell: “Rome cares 
nothing for religion — only for power.” The very divin- 
ities that men have set up often impress one as being in 
a considerable measure their pooled self-esteem. “We 
are glad,” as Dryden says, “to have God on our side to 
maul our enemies, when we cannot do the work our- 
selves.” Jonathan Edwards has genuine religious ele- 
vation; but the Jehovah in whose “fierceness” he 
plainly rejoices, and who tramples sinners under his feet 
until their blood is “sprinkled on his garments,” might 
lead some to dismiss Edwards as a theological imperial- 
ist. A more unmistakable example is that of certain 
members of the group of Fundamentalists that has re- 
cently been dividing the Baptist denomination, who 
have depicted Christ in his second coming in colors that 
make Nero and Caligula seem respectable. One scarcely 
need dilate on the fact that Christ was in his first coming 
a deep disappointment to the Jewish populace; the Mes- 
siah they had hoped for was far nearer to Napoleon than 
to the Messiah they actually received. 

It goes without saying that the imperialistic element 


I have noted in religious beliefs, as weU as in those who 
administer them, is not the whole story. Above all, it is 
not the whole story in the case of Christianity. Chris- 
tianity has actually done much to cm-b the expansive 
lusts of the human heart, and among its other lusts, the 
lust for power. As Dante puts it, “men wandering wild 
in their bestiality,” have need of a twofold control : “ that 
of the highest Pontiff to lead them according to revela- 
tion to eternal life, and that of the Emperor to lead them 
according to the traditions of philosophy to temporal 
felicity.” ^ Of course the reality never coincided exactly 
with Dante’s ideal. From his tremendous diatribes 
against the self-seeking rulers of his time, one might infer 
that Europe then was almost as mad as it certainly is 
to-day. At the same time Christianity in its mediseval 
form actually did secure for Europe no small degree of 
spiritual unity and cohesion, and even when there was 
disunion, it was not rendered infinitely maleficent, as 
it is now, by the concomitant circumstance that those 
who were spiritually at variance were bound up to- 
gether materially. 

Now I scarcely need repeat what I have said here and 
elsewhere that the loss of this older European unity was 
due to the rise of what one may describe, in the most 
general sense, as the critical spirit, which has in turn 
been identical with the spirit of individualism. To be 
modem has meant practically to be increasingly positive 
and critical, to refuse to receive anything on an author- 
ity “anterior, exterior, and superior” to the individual. 
With those who still cling to the principle of outer au- 
‘ De Monarchia, ni, ch. xvi. 


thority I have no quarrel. I am not primarily concerned 
with them. I am myself a thoroughgoing individualist, 
writing for those who are, like myself, irrevocably com- 
mitted to the modem experiment. In fact, so far as I 
object to the moderns at all, it is because they have not 
been sufficiently modern, or, what amounts to the same 
thing, have not been sufficiently experimental. In the 
field of the natural law, those who have gone in for 
modernity evidently satisfy my test in no small meas- 
ure. The substitution of positive observation for what 
seemed to a Bacon, for instance, the apriorism and ver- 
bal subtleties and servile leaning upon authority of the 
schoolmen has actually led to the fruits anticipated. 
But the apostles of modernity have not been content 
merely to minister to man’s power and utility. They 
have also professed to have a substitute for the spiritual 
unity of the older order, and here, when tried experi- 
mentally, that is, according to their own principles, they 
have, I have tried to show, failed disastrously. The re- 
sults of the material success and spiritual failure of the 
modem movement are before us. It is becoming obvi- 
ous to every one that the power of Occidental man has 
run very much ahead of his wisdom. The outlook might 
be more cheerful if there were any signs that Occidental 
man is seeking seriously to make up his deficiency on 
the side of wisdom. On the contrary, he is reaching out 
almost automatically for more and more power. If he 
succeeds in releasing the stores of energy that are locked 
up in the atom — and this seems to be the most recent 
ambition of our physicists — his final exploit may be 
to blow hims elf off the planet. We are told that our 


means of destruction are growing so terrible that no one 
will venture to use them — the same argument that was 
heard before the War. But at the same time that we 
are heaping up these means of destruction, the break- 
down of the traditional controls combined with the 
failure thus far to supply any adequate substitute, is 
creating fools and madmen who will not hesitate to use 

It would sometimes seem, indeed, that what wisdom 
we still have is a survival. One can at least understand 
the point of view of those who decide to stand in the 
ancient ways and to assume towards much of what is 
deemed progressive nowadays an attitude frankly reac- 
tionary. One may even catch the point of view of the 
ultramontane Catholic, as set forth by Pius IX in the 
eightieth article of the Syllabus (1864) : “If any one says 
that the Pope can and should be reconciled and make 
terms with progress, with liberalism and modernist civil- 
ization, let him be anathema.” 

It is, however, possible to admit that some vital ele- 
ment dropped out in the passage from the medieval to 
the modern era, or, what amounts to the same thing, 
from outer authority to individualism, and still remain 
a modern. But in that case one should make clear that 
to be a thoroughgoing modern is not such a simple mat- 
ter as is sometimes assumed. I am myself fond of in- 
sisting that man is subject not to one, but to two laws; 
and that to be completely modern, one must be positive 
and critical, not merely according to the natural, but also 
according to the human law. Those who have piqued 
themselves on modernity have thus far been for the most 


part persons who have been more or less critical accord- 
ing to the natural law, and then have pieced out their in- 
complete survey of the facts by various rationalistic de- 
vices, or else by idyllic imagining. In the realm of the 
human law, the nineteenth century, so far as it stood for 
a radical break with tradition, was, on the one hand, an 
age of rationalism, on the other, an age of romantic 
dreaming. He who has broken with traditions in this 
fashion should, in my judgment, be called, not a modern 
but a modernist. The term modern should be reserved 
for the person who is seeking to be critical according to 
both the human and the natural law. Any one who at- 
tempts such a task will find it necessary to give a much 
wider meaning to the word experiment than has of late 
been usual : it should be extended to cover not merely 
the kind of experimenting that goes on in a laboratory, 
but also the experimenting with various philosophies of 
life that has gone on in the remote as well as in the near 
past. To be sure the man who turns nowadays to the 
past for instruction is likely to be regarded as more or 
less a reactionary. A more familiar type is that of the 
progressive who has repudiated the past, barely tolerates 
the present, and is at home imaginatively only in that 
vast, windy abode, the future. Yet Goethe speaks not 
as a reactionary, but as a person of keenly experimental 
temper, when he says that we should oppose to the 
“aberrations of the hour the masses of universal his- 
tory.” As a result of the toil of innumerable investi- 
gators, these masses of universal history are becoming 
fairly accessible to us from the era of the Fighting 
States in ancient China (third century b.c.) to the era of 


the fighting states in contemporary Europe. But one 
must grant that there are great, if not insurmountable 
difficulties in turning to account these records of the 
past, and in building up from them standards with which 
to judge the “aberrations of the hour.” The obvious 
difficulty is the element of truth contained in the sajdng 
that history never repeats itself. If this were the whole 
truth, if history were only a whirl of unrelated happen- 
ings that did not exhibit the workings of any central 
human law, one would have a right to dismiss any 
attempt to judge the present in the light of past ex- 
perience with the dictum of Henry Ford or some more 
elegant equivalent: “History is bunk.” But though it is 
true that history never repeats itself, it is about equally 
true that history is always repeating itself; and this 
is a part of the paradox of life itself which does not give 
us here an element of oneness, and there an element 
of change, but a oneness that is always changing. This 
implication of unity in diversity is the scandal of reason, 
and philosophers have, for the most part, ever since the 
Greeks, been seeking with the aid of reason to abstract 
the unity from the diversity, or else, by similar ration- 
alizing processes, to stress the diversity at the expense 
of the unity. Practically all the philosophers who now 
have the “cry” belong, it is scarcely necessary to add, 
to the latter class. But the complete positivist will 
insist that wisdom is found in mediation between the 
constant and the variable factors in human experience. 
His objection to the unity that the Rousseauist proposes 
to establish among men through the diffusion of love and 
sympathy is that it is illusory. If it were only possible 


to oppose to this unreal unity, a mere chimera of the 
romantic imagination, some firm and fast unity, purged 
of illusion with the aid of reason, and tucked away once 
for all into formulae, our problem would be very easy. 
The man who faces life as it actually is, however, will 
not admit that it is possible thus to eliminate the ele- 
ment of illusion. To recognize this element is not to be 
oneself an illusionist, but on the contrary a keen ob- 
server. It is in the role that they attribute to illusion 
that the wisdom of the great poets, of a Shakespeare or 
a Sophocles, for example, is most manif est. I have tried 
to show elsewhere ^ how closely related this problem of 
illusion is to the problem of the imagination. The final 
contrast is not between reason or judgment and mere 
illusion, but between the imagination that is disciplined 
to what abides in the midst of the changeful and the 
illusory, and the imagination that is more or less free to 
wander wild in some “empire of chimeras.” 

The true vision of the disciplined imagination is need- 
ful if one is to profit by experience, a task that becomes 
increasingly difiicult according as the experience in- 
volved is one’s own experience or that of one’s contem- 
poraries or that of the near or remote past. Vision of 
this type would seem to be depressingly rare, and yet 
without it men run the risk, and that often when they 
are most filled with the conceit of their own progressive- 
ness, of simply “committing the oldest sins the newest 
kind of ways.” Experience, we are told, keeps a hard 
school, but fools will learn in no other; it is a rather wise 
fool, one is sometimes inclined to think, who can learn 
1 See Introduction to Rousseau and Romanticism. 


even from his own experience, not to speak of the ex- 
perience of others. 

But to return to our more immediate topic: evidently 
the type of vision that can bring to bear the experience 
of the remoter past upon our democratic-imperialistic 
era is not easy to attain, but seems very necessary if one 
is to appeal to history at all. For one has to go rather far 
back to find any close parallel to our present imbroglio. 
Various persons have pointed out the analogy between 
the Great War and its psychological background and 
the period of the Peloponnesian War in Greece; and this 
analogy is helpful provided it be used with sufficient 
caution. The period of the Peloponnesian War was, like 
our own, a period of commercial and imperialistic ex- 
pansion; and this expansion was accompanied, espe- 
cially at Athens, by an increasing trend towards an 
equalitarian democracy.® Like our own age, it was an 
age of “ intellectuals ” who were repudiating the tradi- 
tional disciplines, largely in virtue of the opposition they 
had established between nature and convention. If nega- 
tively this cult of nature meant revolt against every- 
thing prescriptive and established, positively it meant, 
on the one hand, admiration for the superman, and on 
the other, sympathy for the weak, though this latter 
element was far less marked in ancient than in modem 
naturalism. It is hard to study the sophists of that time 
without being reminded of our own philosophers of the 
flux, or, in the phrase of Aristophanes, votaries of the 

‘ The typical democratic-imperialistic statesman of this age is 
Pericles. For a sense of the dangers of the poliey of Athenian ex- 
pansion and also of the importance of union among the Greeks, 
one has to turn to conservatives of the t3rpe of Cimon. 


God Whirl. Persons were not lacking in ancient Athens 
who saw the perils of this anarchical individualism. 
Some, hke Aristophanes, were simply for getting back to 
the “ good old times,” and refused to distinguish between 
Socrates and an ordinary sophist. Socrates, however, it 
is hardly necessary to say, along with Plato and Aristotle 
and lesser disciples, was in reality seeking to build up, in 
lieu of the crumbling traditional standards, standards 
more in accord with the critical spirit. The Socratic 
effort was on the whole a failure, especially in the politi- 
cal field. The causes of this failure are complex. I will 
presently point out what seem to me serious omissions 
in the Socratic philosophy itself: and then, too, it may be 
maintained without paradox that Occidental civiliza- 
tion is still suffering from the failure, even from the time 
of the wily Odysseus, of the Greek character to measure 
up to the Greek mind. ‘ If the Hellenes could only get 
together, says Aristotle, they might hold their own 
against the world. Unfortunately, they could never get 
together. Even when a political tradition that was in its 
essence identical with religion still bound together the 
citizens of the various city-states, these states were 
largely centrifugal as regards one another for the very 
reason that each state had different gods. With the 
breakdown of these politico-religious traditions and the 
failure to work out on Socratic or other lines some 
equivalent for the spiritual controls they supplied, the 
citizens of each city-state tended to become centrifugal 

* Cicero, whom no one will accuse of being an enemy of the 
Greeks, has a pa.ssage on this subject that may be regarded as 
definitive. See his OroHo pro L. Valerio Flacco, iv. 


not onl}^ with reference to the citizens of other city- 
states, but with reference to one another. There fol- 
lowed all the abominable incidents of class-war. At 
Miletus, for example, the poor got the upper hand and 
forced the rich to flee from the city. But afterwards, 
regretting that they had not been able to kill them, they 
took their children, gathered them together in barns, 
and had them trampled under the feet of oxen. The 
rich afterwards returned to the city and became masters 
again. They took in their turn the children of the poor, 
covered them with pitch, and burned them alive.^ This 
is the kind of thing of which our modern world has 
already had a substantial first instalment from the 
French to the Russian Revolution. The decadent 
Greeks, like those who are preaching a class-war in our 
own day, employed many fine phrases, but the law that 
actually tended to prevail was the law of force. This 
force was finally supplied, as frequently happens in such 
cases, from without, first by Macedon and then by 
Rome. On this final submission to an imperialistic 
autocrat, the decadent Greek consoled himself for what 
would have seemed to a Greek of the great period a 
deep degradation by the somewhat shabby fiction that 
he was submitting, not to a man, but to a god. 

Any summary of the kind I have been attempting is 
necessarily very misleading. Nothing will take the 
place of a first-hand knowledge of the sources, above all 
of Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides. Any one can con- 
vince himself of the startling relevancy to existing con- 
ditions of Aristotle’s “Politics” in particular, especially 
* See Athenaeus, xii, 26. 


now that we have begun in this country to shp our con- 
stitutional moorings and to drift towards a direct or un- 
limited democracy. There are passages that are as mod- 
ern as the morning newspaper, and at least a hundred 
times more sensible. Rome later ran through a some- 
what similar cycle: a constitutional republic resting 
ultimately on religious control gradually gave way with 
the weakening of this control to an equalitarian democ- 
racy which in turn passed over with the usual incidents 
of class-war into a decadent imperialism. The imperial- 
istic upshot of an unbridled individualism might also be 
illustrated from the crumbling of the feudal system in 
ancient China and the resulting era of the Fighting 
States to which I have already alluded. Some of the phi- 
losophy of this time, that of Mei-ti/ for example, exhibits 
a mingling of utilitarian and sentimental elements which 
is closer, perhaps, to our contemporary humanitarianism 
than anything to be found in Greece or Rome. Towards 
the end, when everything had been tried, including the 
balance of power, universal brotherhood, and a “league 
of nations,” and after the perpetration of horrors un- 
speakable, no one apparently had any more illusions: 
the only question was which imperialistic leader should 
first succeed in imposing his will on all the others. 

> A German translation of Mei-ti (with a laudatory introduc- 
tion) has recently been published by Alfred Forke. It should be 
noted that jSn, the virtue on which the Confucian puts his final 
emphasis, though usually rendered by “benevolence” or some such 
term, is something very different from altruism. This should be 
plain from the uncompromising hostility of Mencius to Mei-ti. 
The exaltation of jin is simply the Confucian way of affirming 
that love is the fulfilment of the law. Inasmuch as jin manifests 
itself on the humanistic rather than on the religious level, the 


Evidently the outlook for our Western civilization, if 
it reaches this last stage of the imperialistic cycle through 
which it is now apparently running, is not cheerful, espe- 
cially in view of the progress that physical science is con- 
stantly making in “improving the mystery of murder.” 
North America, and to a considerable degree. South 
America, it is scarcely necessary to say, belong to the 
same cultural group as the states of western Europe. 
All the states of this group are now exhibiting in various 
forms and varying degrees the symptoms of an unduly 
centrifugal individuaUsm. The outside world, that fre- 
quently has the last word under these circumstances, 
may, in view of the present facilities of communication, 
be taken to include all the rest of mankind, especially 
the great rival cultures of Asia. Now the more power- 
ful states of the cultural group I have just defined are 
not only imperialistic in their attitude towards one an- 
other, but also supremely imperialistic in their attitude 
towards the outlying peoples and cultures. It is hard to 
see that the states that are supposed to be democrati- 
cally ruled are very different in this matter from the rest. 
As early as 1790 Mirabeau warned the French enthusi- 
asts that “free peoples are more eager for war, and de- 
mocracies more the slaves of their passions than the most 
absolute autocracies.” This is true in the obvious politi- 
cal sense not only in Europe, but in other parts of the 
world. Republican France, for example, has been reach- 
ing out eagerly for an African and Asiatic empire. But 
there is a type of imperialistic expansion even more 

nearest Western equivalent is probably the treatment of friend- 
ship by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethia (Books vni-ix). 


important, perhaps, than this obvious political kind, and 
frequently leading up to it, and that is the imperialistic 
expansion of the commercialist. It has been said that 
trade follows the flag, but an even more significant truth 
is that the flag tends to follow trade: let one consider the 
origins of the British Empire in India. It is hardly neces- 
sary at this day to refute the notion held by so many 
liberals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that 
trade is in itself a pacific agency. Commercial interests 
lead to clashes and dangerous rivalries between Euro- 
pean nations, not merely in Europe itself, but in other 
parts of the world. Thus a chief aspect of imperialism at 
the present time is the international scramble for oil. 
One may read in a recent issue of a responsible French 
publication that “for the success of their projects. Lord 
Cowdray and Lord Curzon are capable of fomenting 
revolutions in Mexico, of sowing civil war in Asia, and, 
in order to crush a rival, of .setting fire to Europe and the 
World! Their imperialism is a universal danger, but is 
not lacking in grandeur.” * In my view the leaders of 
contemporary England are not quite so Machiavellian, 
but the view I have just cited is widely held in France, 
and scarcely leads to the confidence that is the necessary 
basis of harmonious relations between France and Eng- 
land. This issue of oil might even under certain circum- 
stances lead to severe tension between England and 

It is becoming more and more evident that the chief 
problem raised by all this imperialistic expansion is that 
of the relations between Asia and the Occident. There 
^ See La Vie dee peuidee, Tome vii, p. 196. 


are possibilities in the present situation that may lead to 
the real world war, that between the East and West, a 
war to which the recent European struggle is hkely to 
seem in retrospect but a faint prelude. It does not on the 
face of it appear probable that Europeans can hope in 
the long run to enjoy the luxury of slaughtering one an- 
other by the most recent and refined methods of scien- 
tific efiBciency and at the same time inflict their imperial- 
ism and racial swagger on about nine hundred millions 
of Asiatics; especially as Asiatics have an opportunity 
of observing the imperialistic rivalries and almost in- 
curable divisions of European powers, not only in Eu- 
rope, but on the soil of Asia itself. The possibilities of 
which I have spoken may not develop in a day. But 
then, as Confucius remarks, “the man who does not take 
far views will have near troubles,” and it is surely time 
to attempt this long-range view of our relations with the 
Orient, especially perhaps with the land of Confucius 

Now the Asiatic problem, when considered from the 
political point of view, breaks up into various minor 
problems. There is, for example, the problem of the 
Near East which has been gravely mismanaged, largely, 
it would seem, as the result of the inability of England 
and France to come to a decent understanding. There is 
again the problem of India. There is also the problem of 
the United States in its relations with the Far East, with 
the possibility in the ofiing of a gigantic struggle for the 
empire of the Pacific. One encounters here the portent 
of Japan, an Asiatic power that is learning to play the 
imperialistic game along the most approved Occidental 


lines, that is even learning to adapt to its own uses the 
humanitarian-imperialistic cant of the “white man’s 
burden,” and is beginning to speak of China as “Japan’s 

Finally, most important of all, perhaps, there is the 
problem of Russia, a country geographically astride of 
Europe and Asia, and psychologically, so far as a great 
part of its population is concerned, at least as Asiatic as 
it is European. With the extermination or impoverish- 
ment of its upper classes, the psychic gap between Rus- 
sia and western Europe is becoming more accentuated. 
The Bolshevist Revolution, which can be shown to de- 
rive in its underlying principles from the great French 
Revolution, has been even more virulently imperialistic 
than French Jacobinism. Russia is likely to remain for 
some time to come a fertile field of imperialistic intrigue, 
not only on the part of Russians, but also of Germans 
and Japanese, and perhaps of Turks, with the whole 
Moslem world in the background. Just as certainGreeks 
were ready to ally themselves with the extra-Hellenic 
world against other Greeks, so Germany in her desire to 
get even might be tempted to join with these extra- 
Emopean forces, even though such action on her part 
would amount to a betrayal of the vital interests of the 
cultural group to which she herself belongs. 

Considerations of this kind are, however, highly spec- 
ulative at best, even though the person who indulges in 
them has a competency in the political field to which I 
make no claim. It is, as a matter of fact, no part of my 
method to deal directly with the political problem. This 
method is, in intention at least, purely psychological. 


When one approaches psychologicallj^ the question of 
Europe versus Asia, and takes a sufSciently long-range 
view, a striking fact forces itself on one’s attention: the 
principle of true spiritual cohesion among men that the 
Grffico-Roman world was unable to supply — for the 
Stoical attempt to achieve such a principle was on the 
whole a failure — came at last from a faith of Oriental 
origin — namely, Christianity. Cardinal Newman re- 
lates in his “Apologia” that what turned him as much 
as any one thing to Catholicism was a Latin maxim 
which afiBrms that the whole world is sound in its judg- 
ments {Securus judicat orbis terrarum). Now, strictly 
speaking, this maxim seems less favorable to the Catho- 
lic and his ultimate appeal to outer authority than to 
the man who seeks to deal with life experimentally. If 
one uses the maxim in this positive spirit, one has to in- 
sist, first of all, that the Asiatic experience that led to 
the rise of Christianity is only part of the total experi- 
ence of Asia. To regard Europe and a small portion of 
Asia as together constituting the orbis terrarum is merely 
a form of our Occidental conceit and arrogance. It is to 
leave out of one’s survey the experience of about half of 
the human race. In this age of universal and facile com- 
munication, it would seem especially desirable to bring 
together the two halves of human experience. A chief 
obstacle to the right interpretation of the experience 
of the Far East has been the fact that those who have 
undertaken the task have suffered not only from inade- 
quate knowledge, but have also frequently worn theo- 
logical blinders. A more serious form of narrowness 
to-day is that of the man who judges the total experience 


of the world, both East and West, from the point of view 
of a merely mechanical progress. An estimate of this to- 
tal experience that is based on adequate knowledge, and 
is at the same time free from dogmatic preoccupations of 
any kind, will, I believe, flash a vivid light on the pre- 
dicament into which we have been led by our one-sided 
naturalism. It will aid us to a purely psychological defi- 
nition of the vital factor that has plainly tended to drop 
out in the passage from mediaeval to modem Europe. It 
will thus help us to recover and maintain this vital fac- 
tor not merely in the form of “old prejudices and un- 
reasoned habits” — the attempt to do so is, I said, 
the weakness of the method of Burke — but in a posi- 
tive and critical form, a form, in other words, in closer 
accord with the modem spirit. 



Writers of books of criticism during the neo-classical 
period were fond of refining on the idea of decorum; at 
times they developed this idea on what one may term a 
continental scale and contrasted the decorous or typical 
European with the decorous or typical Asiatic. Specula- 
tions of this kind are not as fantastic as they at first 
sight appear. One may not only become aware of some 
underlying divergence in the temper of the Asiatic as 
compared with that of the European, but, to some ex- 
tent, formulate it. In speaking, however, of Asia it is 
even more important than in speaking of Europe to 
make clear that one has in mind primarily civilized Asia, 
and civilized Asia at the top of its achievement. The 
hordes of barbaric or semi-barbaric Asia have not only 
menaced or actually overrun Europe in the past (as they 
may very well do again in the future), but have also been 
from remote times the scourge of civilized Asia. In an- 
cient Judffia the memory of these wild northern riders 
lingered in the legends of Gog and Magog. The great 
Wall of China is a sort of visible symbol of the separa- 
tion between the two Asias. On the one hand is the Asia 
of Attila and Tamerlane and Genghis Khan; on the 
other, the Asia of Christ and Buddha and Confucius. 

The mention of Christ and Buddha (of Confucius as a 
typical Asiatic I shall have more to say presently) is 



hardly necessary to remind us that it is the distinction of 
Asia as compared with Europe and other parts of the 
world to have been the mother of religions; so that if one 
were to work out a critical and experimental definition 
of religion (and my method requires nothing less), one 
might be put on the track of what is specifically Asiatic 
in the Asiatic attitude towards life. Of course, historical 
Christianity is far from being a purely Asiatic faith. It 
contains important elements drawn from Greek phi- 
losophy — Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoical, Neoplatonic; 
also a strong Roman element, especially what I have 
described as Roman imperialistic organization, not to 
speak of sacramental magic and elements drawn from 
the mystery cults, which are of mixed origin but stUl 
largely Greek. What elements in Christianity may be 
referred back to the Founder? We have Christ’s own 
authorization for dealing with this question experimen- 
tally (“By their fruits ye shall know them ”). Now Bacon 
and the utihtarians have also preached a gospel of fruits, 
but the fruits that Christ has in mind are plainly not of 
the Baconian type. They are the fruits of the spirit, and 
what these fruits are, Saint Paul has told us once for all: 
“Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, 
faith, mildness, self-control.” The equivalent of this list 
in its total emphasis will not be found in any European 
cult or philosophy that antedates Christianity. It is 
possible, however, to find the equivalent in the older 
religious thought of Asia. About the middle of the third 
century before Christ, the Buddhist ruler of India, 
Asoka, had a very similar list of virtues carved in stone 
at various points throughout his vast empire: “Com- 


passion, liberality, truth, purity, gentleness, peace, joy- 
ousness, saintliness, self-control.” ^ Thus Buddhism and 
Christianity, which often seem to be almost hopelessly 
at variance when approached from the point of view of 
dogma, confirm one another in this striking fashion 
when studied experimentally and in their fruits. 

K we wish to define religion adequately, we need per- 
haps to take a further step and inquire which of the vari- 
ous fruits of the spirit enumerated by Saint Paul and 
Asoka is most central in the truly religious life. This 
central virtue seems to have been overlooked by 
Matthew Arnold in a definition of religion that has at 
least the merit of being experimental: “Religion is,” he 
says, “morality touched by emotion.” Though religion 
normally leads through morality and, at least in its 
earlier stages, is very much mixed up with emotion, the 
final emphasis, if we are to believe the great religious 
leaders themselves, is elsewhere. “My peace I give unto 
you,” said Christ on his final parting with his disciples. 
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, 
and I will give you rest.” Buddha conceives of the fulfil- 
ment of religion in very similar fashion: “His thought is 
quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has ob- 
tained freedom by true wisdom, when he has thus be- 
come a quiet man.” ^ And what is the pathway to this 

' The question arises as to the influence of the older religion on 
Christianity. Much has been asserted on this subject and little 
or nothing proved. All we know positively is that Asoka sent 
out missionaries to Syria, Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia and Epirus. 
As to the results of this missionary effort we are not informed. A 
translation of the different inscriptions will be found in Asoka by 
Vincent A. Smith (2nd ed., 1909). 

» Dhammapada, v. 96. 



peace? Dante has caught the inmost spirit of Chris- 
tianity in his reply to this question: “In his will is our 
peace.” This idea that man needs to submit his ordi- 
nary self to a higher or divine will is essential not merely 
to Christianity, but to all genuine religion. Moham- 
med is at one here with Buddha and Christ. The very 
word Islam means submission. 

In India, though the same preoccupation with the will 
has prevailed, the will to which man subordinates his 
ordinary self is often conceived, not as a divinity that 
transcends him, but as his own higher seK. Buddha 
eliminates many things that are aecounted essential in 
other faiths, including Christianity, but this opposition 
between man’s higher or ethical will and his natural self 
or expansive desires he does not eliminate. On the con- 
trary, more than any other religious teacher, he plants 
himself on the naked psychological fact of this opposi- 
tion; so that Buddhism, in its original form, is the most 
critical, or, if one prefer, the least mythological of 

It is important to note that much of the doctrine that 
has flourished in India has not been sharply dualistic 
like that of Buddha or any other genuine religious 
teacher, but has had a more or less marked pantheistic 
leaning. This leaning appears in a number of the Hindus 
who are now professing to interpret India to the outside 
world. For example, Rabindranath Tagore has enjoyed 
no small degree of credit as an interpreter of India, not 
merely in the Occident, but in the Orient itself. He has 
the merit of seeing the importance of the whole question 
of East versus West, and in his criticism of the West 


often shows on the negative side no small degree of 
perspicacity. The man of the West, he says, has special- 
ized in power and mechanical efficiency and so has been 
enabled to make himself the bully of the planet; but it 
is established in the nature of things that bullies shall 
come to grief. This view of the Occident has not only 
found adherents in China and Japan, but something 
very similar to it is being muttered at the present time 
by Mohammedan mullahs from Delhi to Tangiers. The 
facts, it is scarcely necessary to say, are not quite so 
simple. The success of the English in maintaining a hold 
on India is not based entirely on mechanical efficiency 
and still less on philanthropy or a supposed eagerness to 
assume the white man’s burden. It has been due in part 
to the division among the Hindus themselves; but it is 
also in no small measure a triumph of character, of the 
sane moral realism that has made of the English the best 
ruling race, perhaps, that the world has yet seen. 

A federation of the states of Europe, Tagore goes on 
to say, would, under existing circumstances, be only a 
federation of steam-boilers. The remedy is to get rid of 
the analysis that has built up this nightmare of mechan- 
ical efficiency and put in its place the principle of love.* 
It is here that the affinity of Tagore appears, not with 
the ancient sages of his own land, as he would have us 
believe, but with our Rousseauistic dreamers. One may 
oppose to the effeminacy of a Tagore or a Bergson and to 
all those, in either East or West, who seek to attain 
“vision” at the expense of analysis, the example of 
Buddha who has claims to be regarded as the ultimate 
* See his book on Nationaliam, passim. 


Oriental. For Buddha supreme “vision ” coincided with 
a supreme act of analysis.* 

I have been trsdng to show that at the centre of the 
great religious faiths of Asiatic origin is the idea of a 
higher will that is felt in its relation to man’s ordinary 
will or expansive desires as a power of vital control. The 
recognition of this will, however conceived — whether 
one say with Christ, “Thy will be done,” or with 
Buddha, “Seh is the lord of self; who else can be the 
lord?” — is the source of awe and humility. The sub- 
mission to this higher will is in its consummation peace. 

At first sight Confucius seems very unlike other great 
Asiatic teachers. His interests, as I have already said, 
are humanistic rather than religious. The points of 
contact between his doctrine and that of Aristotle, the 
most important Occidental humanist, are numerous and 
striking. One is tempted to say, indeed, that, if there is 
such a thing as the wisdom of the ages, a central core of 
normal human experience, this wisdom is, on the reli- 
gious level, found in Buddha and Christ and, on the hu- 
manistic level, in Confucius and Aristotle. These teach- 
ers may be regarded both in themselves and in their 
influence as the four outstanding figures in the spiritual 
history of mankind. Not only the experience of the 
world since their time, but much of its previous experi- 
ence may be properly associated with them.^ One may 

1 The tracing of the so-called "chain of dependent origination.” 

• Of Confucius, for example, the late Professor Chavannes of 
the CollSge de France says : “He was, as it were, five hundred years 
before our era, the national conscience which gave precision and 
corroboration to the profound ideas of which the classic books 
of remote antiquity reveal to us the first outlines. ... He went 


note as an interesting analogy that just as Saint Thomas 
Aquinas sought to combine the wisdom of Aristotle with 
that of Christ in his Sum of Theology, so about the same 
time Chu Hsi mingled Buddhist with Confucian ele- 
ments in his great commentary. 

Though Aristotle and Confucius come together in 
their doctrine of the mean, one should hasten to add that 
in their total attitude towards life they reveal the 
characteristic difference between the European and the 
Asiatic temper. The interests of Aristotle were far from 
being exclusively humanistic. He is supposed to have 
spent the happiest years of his life on the islands about 
the .iEgean, observing the fish and marine life and pre- 
paring the material for the biological treatises that won 
the admiration of Darwin.* It is perhaps not easy to 
combine such a far-ranging intellectual curiosity as that 
of Aristotle with the humility so emphasized by Confu- 
cius and other Oriental teachers. Aristotle has had an 
influence great almost beyond reckoning, not merely on 
Christian, but on Jewish and Mohammedan religious 
thought; and yet one would feel something subtly incon- 

about proclaiming the necessity of conforming to the moral idea 
that China had slowly conceived in the course of the centuries; 
the men of his time refused to obey him because they found it too 
difScult to give up their comforte or their interests; they felt, 
nevertheless, that his voice had a more than human authority; 
they were moved and stirred to the depths of their being when 
they were touched by the potent spirit coming from the distant 
past which summoned up in them the truths glimpsed by their 
fathers.” Quelquea Idiea mordLea des Chinoia (lecture originally 
given at the Sorbonne and published in Bulletin de la SocUte 
avSmir du Monde, Janvier-Mai, 1918, pp. 47 £f.). 

' See article on Aristotle by D. W. lliompson in The Legacy oj 
Greece, p. 144. 



gruous in a temple to Aristotle. One does not need to be 
a Confucian to feel that a temple to Confucius would not 
be similarly incongruous. He was not, like Aristotle, a 
master of them that know, but a master of them that 
will. He was strong at the point where every man knows 
in the secret of his heart that he is weak. The decorum 
or principle of inner control that he would impose 
upon the expansive desires is plainly a quality of will. 
He is no obscurantist, yet the role of reason in its rela- 
tion to will is, as he views it, secondary and instru- 
mental. If we turn from Aristotle to Socrates, whose 
interests were, like those of Confucius, almost exclu- 
sively ethical, a similar contrast between the Oriental 
and Occidental temper appears. The Socratic con- 
ception of virtue encourages a primary emphasis on 
mind. Moreover, the Occident, having emancipated it- 
self from the Oriental assertion of the primacy of will in 
its Christian form, has been devoting itself more and 
more since the Renaissance, not to the Socratic thesis 
that knowledge is virtue, but to the Baconian thesis that 
knowledge is power. 

Few would deny that humility has decreased with the 
decline of traditional religion. The very word humility, 
as M. Faguet remarks, may in a not distant future be 
relegated to the dictionary of archaisms. The word, so 
far as it survives at all, is often used incorrectly It is 
sometimes employed, for example, to describe the defer- 
ence that the man of science should display towards the 
mystery and infini tude of nature, or again as a synonym 

‘Hume has a discussion of humility in animals! {TreaMae of 
Human Nature, Book ii, Part i. Sect, sdi.) 


for the modesty or even, it may be, meanness of spirit 
that a man shows in comparing himself to other men. 
It is well that one should not be puffed up in one’s deal- 
ings with either nature or other men, but humility be- 
longs to another and, as Pascal insists, supernatural 
order. The assertion of Burke that h umili ty thus under- 
stood is the root of all the other virtues involves first 
principles and so is not subject to mediation or com- 
promise. It must either be accepted as true or rejected 
as false. If any one accepts the assertion as true (as I 
myself do), the question then arises why humility has 
suffered such an eclipse in the Occident. The obvious 
reply is that it has been associated in the past with cer- 
tain doctrines, notably the doctrine of the Fall and that 
of divine grace, and that these doctrines have tended to 
be undermined by the growth of the critical spirit. The 
individual has refused more and more to submit to the 
outer authority, whether that of Revelation or of the 
Church, from which these doctrines derived their ulti- 
mate sanction; and his humility has declined, one is 
tempted to say, in almost exact ratio to his growth in 
self-reliance. If any one wishes to be a true modem, if 
he refuses in other words to submit to authority merely 
as such, he is confronted with a serious problem: it is 
plainly not easy to be at once humble and self-reliant. 
The very doctrine of self-reliance has, from the point of 
view of humility, a singularly clouded record in the Occi- 
dent, and that from the time of the ancient Greeks to 
the present day. No one would ever associate humility 
with the Cyidcs who were among the first to proclaim 
self-reliance (auiarkeia). The Stoics again favored 



self-reliance. According to Pascal, they were guilty of 
"diabolical pride” in their first assumptions. Even 
though this phrase be too strong, especially as apphed 
to certain Stoics, e.g., Marcus Aurehus, it is hardly pos- 
sible to cite the Stoics in general as examples of meek- 
ness and lowliness of spirit. 

If one comes to modem apostles of self-reliance, one 
thinks first of all perhaps of Rousseau and his defence of 
the doctrine in "Emile.” As to the degree of his humil- 
ity, one should be sufficiently enlightened by the first 
page of the "Confessions.” Nor can it be maintained 
that Emerson, the chief American champion of self- 
reliance, is conspicuously humble.' 

If we are to grasp the problem involved in the attempt 
to be at once humble and self-reliant, we need to go back 
to the ancient individualism that Rousseau and Emer- 
son in some respects revive and seek to get at the causes 
of its final failure. The Stoic bases his optimism prima- 
rily, we soon discover, not, like Rousseau, on faith in his 
instincts, but on faith in reason. To Icnow the right 
thing is about tantamount to doing it. Reason and will 
thus tend to become identical. The Stoics themselves 
conceived that in this matter they were simply following 
in the footsteps of Socrates. The whole question is, as a 
matter of fact, closely allied to the Platonic and Socratic 
identification of knowledge and virtue; and this again 
brings up the great point at issue between European and 
Asiatic as to the relation of intellect and will. The chief 

‘ Mr. Brownell goes so far as to say that it would be impossible 
to have less humility than Emerson (American Prose Masters, 
p. 176). 


religious teachers of Asia have, I have already said, as- 
serted in some form or other a higher will to which man 
must submit in his natural self (and in Asiatic psychol- 
ogy intellect belongs to the natural self), if he is to enter 
the pathway of peace. A comparison between Plato and 
Buddha might help to elucidate this contrast between 
East and West. Buddha Uke Plato sought to bring to- 
gether philosophy and religion; but even so he put far 
less emphasis on the role of mind than Plato. The list of 
“unthinkables” he drew up is almost equivalent to a 
denial that life can in any deep sense of the word be 
known at all. It cannot be maintained that the mind 
(rnano) of the Buddhist coincides exactly with the 
Platonic mind (nous). It is, nevertheless, significant 
that “mind” is for the Buddhist an organ of the flux, 
whereas Plato exalts “mind” to the first place. It is a 
less grievous error, according to Buddha, to look on one’s 
body as permanent than to harbor a similar conceit 
about one’s “mind.” A Buddhist might regard as the 
underlying error of Occidental philosophy the tendency 
that goes at least as far back as Parmenides to identify 
thought with being.^ Why should so chimerical a crea- 
ture as man identify either thought or any other part of 
himself with being? As Pindar says, “What are we, 
what are we not? Man is but the dream of a shadow.” 
Pindar apparently feared lest he might flatter unduly 
man’s conceit of his own permanence if he had called 
him even the shadow of a dream. To suppose that one 
can transcend the element of impermanence, whether in 
oneself or the outer world, merely through reason in any 
‘ See Diels, Fragmente der VorsokTaiiker, i, p. H7. 



sense of the word, is to forget that “illusion is an integral 
part of reality.” The person who confides unduly in 
“reason ” is also prone to set up some static “ absolute ” ; 
while those who seek to get rid of the absolute in favor 
of flux and relativity tend at the same time to get rid of 
standards. Both absolutists and relativists are guilty of 
an intellectual sophistication of the facts, inasmuch as 
in fife as it is actually experienced, imity and multiplicity 
are indissolubly blended. 

The Buddhist (to return to our comparison of East 
and West) seems at first sight to belong with the apos- 
tles of the flux. As a matter of fact, comparisons have 
been made between Buddha and Bergson on the ground 
that they are both “philosophers of becoming.” We 
are justified on other groimds than that of their dis- 
tance m time and space in finding the collocation of 
these names startling. Bergson positively revels in 
change and naturalistic expansiveness and avows ex- 
plicitly, as we have seen, that his philosophy of elan vital 
leads straight to imperialism. Buddha for his part is at 
least as much concerned as Plato with escaping from the 
flux and, so far from being imperialistic, is turned, to the 
exclusion of everything else, towards what in his own 
phrase makes for “tranquillity, knowledge, supreme wis- 
dom, and Nirvana.” This combination of a philosophy 
of the flux with religious peace and humility is unlike 
anything we have seen in the Occident and should be a 
warning that in dealing with Buddha we need to proceed 
with extreme circumspection. One may at least form 
sonae conjecture as to the point at which Buddha di- 
verges from philosophers in the Western tradition. As a 


thoroughgoing individualist, he is forced to grapple with 
the problem of the One and the Many; if there is no 
principle of unity in things with which to measure the 
manifoldness and change, the individual is left without 
standards and so falls necessarily into an anarchical im- 
pressionism. Now Buddha like a true Asiatic discovers 
this unifying principle, not in intellect, but in will. 
Though he assigns an important role to intellect, since 
he is himself highly analytical, this role is after all sec- 
ondary and instrumental. Any attempt to deal with life 
directly in terms of the intellect involves in some form 
the attempt to put the ocean in a cup. Life reveals its 
secret, he seems to say, only to the man who acts; and of 
all forms of action the most difficult is inner action. The 
first step in understanding not merely Buddha but 
Christ is to see that they were both primarily men of ac- 
tion in the sense in which the Asiatic in his great mo- 
ments has imderstood action. Buddha is for reducing 
theory to a minimum. The least speculative of our Wes- 
tern philosophers would probably have seemed to him 
still far too speculative. He has succeeded in compress- 
ing the wisdom of the ages into a sentence: “To refrain 
from all evil, to achieve the good, to purify one’s own 
heart, this is the teaching of the Awakened.” ‘ The 
Buddhist commentary is interesting: When you repeat 
the words, they seem to mean nothing, but when you try 
to put them into practice, you find they mean every- 

Some of the difficulties inherent in any attempt to 
treat the problem of the One and the Many primarily as 

1 Eight words in the Pali original. See Dhammapada, v. 186. 



a problem of knowledge appear in the Platonic theory 
of ideas. It is a matter of positive perception that there 
is an element of oneness in all the particular objects that 
belong to some class. There is, for example, an element 
of oneness in all particular horses; and this oneness is 
in Platonic parlance the idea or heavenly archetype of 
the horse. Unfortimately, if one does not get beyond 
this stage, the oneness remains a mere abstraction and 
finally a mere word — and human nature craves the con- 
crete. The attempt to deal intellectually with the rela- 
tion of the unity to the manifoldness would seem to lead 
to difficulties of the kind Plato has himself set forth in 
the second part of his “Parmenides.” This problem as 
to how to escape from mere abstraction appears in the 
case of the chief idea of all — that of the good or of God 
which also coincides with what is most exalted in man. 
The word that stands for the idea of the good is the word 
par excellence, the logos. One can follow to some ex- 
tent the process by which the Greek conception of the 
logos was transmitted through intermediaries like Philo 
Judseus to the author of the Fourth Gospel. The speci- 
fically Asiatic element in the Christian solution of the 
problem of the logos is the subordination, either implicit 
or explicit, of the divine reason to the divine will. By 
an act of this will, the gap between a wisdom that is ab- 
stract and general and the individual and particular is 
bridged over at last; the Word is made flesh. The human 
craving for the concrete is satisfied at the essential point. 
The truth of the incarnation, to put the matter on purely 
psychological grounds, is one that we have all experi- 
enced in a less superlative form : the final reply to all the 


doubts that torment the human heart is not some theory 
of conduct, however perfect, but the man of character. 
Pontius Pilate spoke as a European when he inquired, 
“What is truth?” On another occasion Christ gave the 
Asiatic reply: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 
In this emphasis on personality Christianity is confirmed 
by the most positive observation. Wherein Christianity 
transcends positive observation is in its tremendous pro- 
jection of personality, divine and human, into the region 
of the infinite and the eternal. 

I have of course in this whole discussion been simpli- 
fying a subject of immense difficulty and complexity at 
the risk of doing injustice to Plato and the other mem- 
bers of the Socratic group. I am not unaware of the al- 
most inexhaustible store of wisdom in Plato. He must 
still be one of the chief aids of those who wish to achieve 
rehgious insight without an undue sacrifice of the criti- 
cal spirit. Yet it is difficult not to have certain doubts 
about the Platonic and Socratic identification of knowl- 
edge and virtue. This identification is not superficial 
precisely — men like Plato and Socrates are never super- 
ficial. Knowledge may conceivably become so perfect 
that to act contrary to it would be Uke putting one’s 
hand into the fire. Moreover, when one has struggled 
out of any maze of error, it will always seem in the retro- 
spect that the error was due even less to a defect of will 
than to ignorance. Nevertheless, the Socratic thesis runs 
counter in certain respects to universal experience. Not 
only do people do what they know to be wrong, but they 
often take a perverse satisfaction in doing it, as Ovid,^ 

^ “Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.” “Nitimur in 
vetitum semper, cupimusque negats.” 



anticipating the delectatio morosa of the theologians, was 
one of the first to point out. Our problem, let us remind 
ourselves, is to be at once self-reliant and humble. But 
it will not be found easy to preserve humUity and at the 
same time to grant, after the fashion of Greek philoso-^ 
phy, the primacy to mind. All other forms of pride are 
as notching compared with the pride of intellect; and the 
pride of intellect itself is most manifest in the attempt to 
know good and evil. So much psychological truth is, it 
would seem, to be found in the myth of the Fall. 

Perhaps my meaning may be best elucidated by study- 
ing ,the Socratic movement in its fruits (and in this 
movement I include the Platonic and in no small degree 
the Aristotelian influence). Since Plato worked prima- 
rily on the religious level, one would have expected the 
fruits of religion to appear in the Platonic Academy. 
The Academy produced a number of distinguished in- 
tellectuals who inclined on the whole towards scepti- 
cism. It is, of course, possible to build up faith on a 
sceptical basis as Socrates himself seems to have done; 
but it can scarcely be maintained that the successors of 
Plato in the Academy achieved either this or any other 
type of faith. In any case the contrast is striking be- 
tween the Academy and the Order founded by Buddha. 
Any one who studies the old records can acquire the con- 
viction that this Order contained many men of faith, 
men who brought forth the very fruits of the spirit that 
have been so admirably defined by Saint Paul, and so 
deserve to be regarded as saints. 

The truth is that the Greeks, on their emancipation 
from traditional standards, slipped rather rapidly into 


mere rationalism, and mere rationalism, whether in the 
Stoical or Epicurean form, showed its usual inability to 
control the expansive lusts of the human heart. Stoicism 
sought to achieve a principle of union among men that 
would have universal validity; it sought, in other words, 
to do the work of a religion. It saw this universal prin- 
ciple in reason, and proclaimed at the same time that 
to live according to reason was to live according to 
nature. Man’s reason, the Stoic assumed, could prevail 
unaided over his outer impressions and expansive de- 
sires. That important aspects, not merely of the So- 
cratic, but of the Platonic and Aristotelian teaching, 
tended to be obscured in later Graco-Roman thought 
is beyond question. At the same time, in assmning that 
right will follows upon right knowledge, the Stoic, as I 
have already said, conceived that he was a true Socratic; 
if herein he missed the true Socratic spirit, one is forced 
to conclude that this spirit was rather easy to miss. 
Stoicism was in general a paradoxical movement; it af- 
firmed that the material order alone is real and then put 
supreme emphasis on a “virtue” that the material order 
does not give. In other words it sought to attain and to 
some extent actually did attain on monistic postulates 
the fruits that are normally associated with a genuinely 
dualistic philosophy. In spite of its many merits and 
partial successes. Stoicism was on the whole a failure; 
and the same must be said of the whole Greek attempt 
to deal critically with the problem of conduct, to work 
out, in other words, a sound type of individualism. This 
failure of Greek philosophy was due, I have suggested, 
to the fact that it is not quite adequate in its treatment 



of the closely allied problems of the imagination and the 
higher or ethical will. Any one who believes that “illu- 
sion is an integral part of reahty,” and who also holds 
with the Asiatic that, if hiunUity is to be secured, will 
must take precedence of mind, is forced to conclude that 
the danger of Greek philosophy was from the start a 
certain obstinate intellectualism. 

Christianity supplied what was lacking in Greek phi- 
losophy. It set up doctrines that humbled reason and 
at the same time it created symbols that controlled 
man’s imagination and through the imagination his will. 
On the basis supplied by this Oriental faith, it was 
possible to reconstruct European civilization after the 
Grasco-Roman collapse and in the midst of the havoc of 
the barbarian invasions. But this work of regeneration 
was accomplished in no small degree at the expense of 
the critical spirit. It resulted in the triumph of an au- 
thority “anterior, exterior, and superior” to the indi- 
vidual. If the Greek confidence in reason proved in some 
respects fallacious, there are also, it must be admitted, 
dangers and difficulties in the worship of will in all its 
forms. On the danger of will-worship in its Nietzsehean 
form it is scarcely necessary to dilate. But even the 
Oriental cult of the ethical will is beset with pitfalls. 
The Hindu ascetic who lies on a bed of spikes or holds 
his arm in the air untU it withers away is exercising will 
in the Oriental sense, but he can scarcely be said to be 
exercising it intelligently. When the higher will again 
is conceived as a divine will that has been revealed once 
for all in words of literal and plenary inspiration, one has 
the drawbacks and difficulties that are most manifest, 


perhaps, in Mohammedanism. The effect is to force hu- 
man life into a rigid and definitive mould. It is not safe 
to overlook the element of flux and relativity in favor of 
absolute will any more than it is to overlook it in favor 
of absolute reason. The Mohammedan has his own way 
of forgetting that illusion is an integral part of reality. 
Moreover, when will is conceived as absolute and irre- 
sponsible and at the same time as transcendant, the in- 
dividual is made humble, indeed, but he is so far from 
being made self-reliant that he is prone to fall into the 
Oriental form of fatalism. 

We need to consider in the interests of our present sub- 
ject not merely the difBculties of the Oriental worship of 
wiU in general, but of this worship as practised by Chris- 
tians in particular — above all, the form that appears in 
the doctrine of grace. Saint Augustine, it is scarcely 
necessary to say, did more than any other one man to 
develop the Pauline teaching on this subject; and Saint 
Augustine was destined, here as elsewhere, to exercise an 
influence great almost be 3 mnd reckoning on mediajval 
and later Christianity. Now Saint Augustine is con- 
sidered with some truth the Christian Plato, The su- 
preme contrast for him as for Plato is that between ^uxa 
et caduca, on the one hand, and, on the other, cerla et 
(jsterna. A further comparison of the two men will, how- 
ever, reveal a profound shifting of emphasis as regards 
the relative importance of intellect and will. Saint Au- 
gustine’s d^ire, as he tells us, is to know only two things 
— God and the soul. (Deum et animam sdre cupio. Ni- 
hilne plus? nihil omnino.) God is envisaged primarily, 
not as mind, but as will. The soul of man is also r^uced 



in its essential aspect to wiU (nihil aliud haheo guam 
voluntatem) . The human will is, however, hopelessly 
alienated from the divine wiU by the Fall. The gap be- 
tween the two can be traversed only by a miracle of 
grace, a miracle that itself depends on the miracle of the 
redemption. Man not only needs the mediation of Christ 
if his will is to be brought into harmony with the divine 
will, but also of the Church and the Sacraments and the 
elaborate priestly hierarchy that is required to adminis- 
ter them. So far from right will following upon right 
knowledge, as Plato thought, fallen man delights in evil 
for its own sake. What was so delicious upon his tongue, 
says Saint Augustine in speaking of the pears that he 
stole when a boy, was not the flavor of the pears them- 
selves, but of his sin. Moreover, this perversity of will 
sprang originally from the intellect and its pride: man 
wished to be as a God, knovdng good and evil. The in- 
tellect was thus not only put in its proper subordinate 
place, but brought under positive suspicion. The way 
was opened for obscurantism. Man was humbled and his 
will regenerated, but more or less, as I have said, at the 
expense of the critical spirit. The historical explanation 
of this uncritical element in Christianity is no doubt 
that, more than most other doctrines, it worked its way 
up from the bottom of society towards the top. At all 
events, men were asked to believe a thing because it was 
absurd,* and ignorance was declared to be the mother of 
devotion. The Church was enabled to carry on all the 

' The phrase Credo quia absurdum does not actually occur in 
the famous fifth chapter of Tertullian’s De Came Christi, but 
sums up correctly the total sense of the chapter. 


more effectively its work of regeneration, it might be 
argued, from the fact that men had ceased to be seK- 
reliant and above all had ceased like the Socratic Greek to 
rely on the intellect. “Is righteousness, then, the daugh- 
ter of ignorance? ” Rousseau inquires. “Are science and 
virtue incompatible? ” The history of the Occident, it 
must be confessed, raises some doubt on this point. The 
so-called Dark Ages, says Lord Acton with some exag- 
geration, were spiritually full of light. ^ On the other hand, 
the intellectually “enlightened” eighteenth century was, 
as Burke complains, spiritually full of darkness. 

The beginnings of “ Enlightenment ’ ’ in the eighteenth- 
century sense go back to the Middle Ages themselves — 
at least as far back as the thirteenth century. A signifi- 
cant coincidence is that between this incipient emanci- 
pation of intellect and the founding of the Inquisition. 
The real emancipation of intellect got fairly under way 
with the Renaissance. Men were becoming self-reliant 
again and in almost the same measure were losing hu- 
mility. They were inclining once more, like the ancient 
Greeks, to look on life primarily as a problem of knowl- 
edge. Only the knowledge that they sought increasingly 

> “Then followed the ages which are not unjustly called the 
Dark Ages, in which were laid the foundations of all the happiness 
that has been since enjoyed, and of all the greatness that has been 
achieved by men. ... It was not an age of conspicuous saints, 
but sanctity was at no time so general. The holy men of the first 
centuries shine with an intense brilliancy from the midst of the 
surrounding corruption. Legions of saints — individually for the 
most part obscure, because of the atmosphere of light around 
them — throng the five illiterate centuries, from the close of the 
great dogmatic controversies to the rise of a new theology and 
the commencement of new interests with Hildebrand, Anselm, 
and Bernard.” {History of Freedom, p. 200.) 



was not the ethical knowledge at which Socrates aimed, 
but knowledge of the natural order. Ethical knowledge 
seemed to have become indissolubly associated with in- 
comprehensible dogmas. An acute conflict was inevi- 
table, often in the heart of the same individual, between 
the old humility and the new spirit of intellectual in- 
quiry. Let us consider the case of Pascal, an eminent 
scientific investigator and also a religious writer at once 
profound and poignant. He recommends a full applicar 
tion of the critical and experimental spirit to the natural 
order, but in all that transcends the natural order he 
would have the critical spirit abdicate before a twofold 
outer authority — that of Revelation and the Church.* 
Spiritual truth he identifies with dogmas that are most 
repugnant to reason — for example, infant damnation.* 
To be sure, all the nobility of man is in reason, but this 
nobility is not in itself of much avail, inasmuch as rea- 
son is the sport and plaything of the imagination. Here, 
I have already noted, is a supreme clash between Chris- 
tian psychology and that of the Stoic, who holds that it 
is possible for reason to triumph over the imagination. 

If reason is thus the plaything of the imagination, 
either the Stoical or any other form of self-reliance is 
vain. Man’s only hope is in arbitrary will in the form of 
divine grace. To the sudden illumination of grace Pascal 
gives the name “heart.” “The heart has reasons of 
which the reason knows nothing.” Will in the form of 
grace is thus at odds with reason which is in turn at odds 
with imagination; whereas, if one is to be a sound indi- 

* See his Fragment d'un TraitS du vide. 

* Pensies, 434. 


■\adualist, it may be that reason and imagination need to 
cooperate in the service of the power in man that I have 
defined as the ethical will. 

It is not to be inferred from what I have said that 
Pascal has ceased to have value for the individualist. 
Many of the arguments that he urges in favor of humil- 
ity and against the pride of intellect are still valid for 
the simple reason that they are not dogmatic, but keenly 
psychological. Why should man be proud, seeing that 
he is, as Pascal shows, caught between two infinites, one 
of smallness and one of magnitude, and is equally unable 
to grasp either, so that the essence of things eludes him 
and must ever elude him. If at any time he thinks he has 
found a firm foundation on which to rear a tower that 
will reach even to the infinite, this foundation suddenly 
fails him and “the earth yawns open even to the abyss.” 
Lacking some such firm foundation, man has no assur- 
ance that his knowledge is real knowledge or anything 
more than a dream within a dream. But there is some- 
thing still more humbling to man than his ignorance, and 
that is the inability of unaided reason to control effec- 
tively his outer impressions and expansive desires. Surely 
realistic observation is here on the side of Pascal rather 
than of the Stoics. Man's peculiar blindness arises from 
the fact that he does not wish to be limited in his domi- 
nant desire, whatever that desire may be. He wishes to 
be free to pursue his folly, as Erasmus would say, and 
finally discovers the limits established in the nature of 
things by the somewhat painful process of colliding with 
them. This human proclivity is so universal, and yet 
the punishment visited upon it is so harsh, that one’s 



final impression is that of a certain treachery in life it- 
self. Under the circumstances one does not need to be a 
Jansenist, or even perhaps a Christian, to see certain 
merits in the older plan of working out one’s salvation in 
fear and trembling as compared with our modem plan 
of “living dangerously,” or, what amounts to the same 
thing, of turning away from awe and humility in favor 
of an endless reaching out of wonder and curiosity. 
Man’s e.vpansive conceit, as the Greek saw, produces 
insolent excess (kybris) and tliis begets blindness (ate) 
which in turn brings on Nemesis. Expansive conceit 
tempered by Nemesis — this is a definition of an es- 
sential aspect of human nature that finds considerable 
support in the facts of history. Man never rushes for- 
ward so confidently, it would sometimes seem, as when 
he is on the very brink of the abyss. The malady of 
Europe on the eve of the Great War was not so much 
ignorance as blindness in the Greek sense. A clear per- 
ception of the workings of Nemesis is what gives distinc- 
tion to the great Greek poets, even to Euripides, the 
least ethical of them: 

Gold and Fair-fortune, with Power the victorious 
Harnessed beside them, in folly vainglorious 
Hurry man to his doom: 

Law he outpaceth, and lawlessness lasheth 
To speed; nor his heart doth incline 
To take heed to the end — lo, his car sudden-crasheth 
Shattered in gloom! * 

A consideration of man’s ignorance and blindness as 
they are revealed on a vast scale in the facts of history 
> The Madness of Hercules, 744 £f., translated by A. S. Way. 


gives a positive basis to humilitj'. One comes to feel that 
the great religious teachers may be right after all in their 
insistence that man needs to subordinate himself to some 
higher will; above all that it is needful that his intellect 
should recognize some such control. The peril that re- 
sults from intellectual unrestraint (libido sciendi) is per- 
haps the most fundamental of aU. “What must be the 
face-to-face antagonist,” asks Cardinal Newman, “by 
which to withstand and baffle . . . the all-corroding, all- 
dissolving energy of the intellect? ” Cardinal Newman 
has at all events asked the essential question, whatever 
one may think of his own solution of it. Unfortunately, 
in getting rid of the pride of intellect the Christian has 
often tended to get rid of the intellect itself or at least 
to depreciate it unduly Hence the obscurantist vein 
that I have already noted in Christianity. To use the 
intellect to the utmost and at the same time to keep it in 
its proper subordinate place is a task that seems thus far 
to have been beyond the capacity of Occidental man. 
The warfare between a reason that presumes unduly 
and a faith that has got itself more or less identified with 
credulity may turn out to be the true disease of Western 
culture from the Greeks to the present day. This strife 
between the head and the heart has left its marks even 
on the forms of language. Thus, to take a few examples, 

* One may illustrate from Cardinal Newman himself; “What is 
intellect itself,” he asks, “but a fruit of the Fall, not found in 
paradise or in heaven, more than in Uttle children, and at the ut- 
most but tolerated by the Church, and only not incompatible 
with the regenerate mind? . . . Reason is God’s gift, and so are 
passions. . . . Eve was tempted to follow passion and reason, and 
she fell.” {Parochial and Plain Sermons, y, p. 112.) 


183 < 

to be a person of “strong mind” (esprit fort) was about 
equivalent in older French usage to being an atheist; to 
be “blessed,” on the other hand, was to be a “block- 
head” (be7iet, from benedictus). An “innocent,” again, is 
an idiot, in contradistinction, no doubt, to the person 
who is said to be as “ bright as the devil.” The English 
“silly” is the same word etymologically as the German 
“holy” (selig). 

When Rousseau said that his heart and his head did 
not seem to belong to the same individual, he simply 
introduced a new and, as I shall try to show presently, 
worse form of obscurantism. In its Rousseauistic form 
the conflict between head and heart has continued to 
our own day. Philosophers, who are under no suspicion 
of being Christians, still assume that there is a more or 
less complete opposition between intellect and intuition, 
so that to be vital in the Bergsonian sense is about the 
same as being anti-intellectual.* 

The more significant contrast, however, still remains 
that between the partisan of grace and the man who, in 
some form or other, asserts the primacy of mind. It can 
be shown that the doctrine of grace was the keystone of 
the whole edifice of European society in its mediaeval 
form. It is not as clear as one might wish that European 
civilization can survive the collapse of this doctrine. 
In any case the problem for the individualist who be- 
lieves that it is not enough to be self-reliant, but that one 
should also be humble, is to discover some equivalent for 
grace. It is here that we may find it profitable to take 

* “ L’intelligence est caract4ris4e pax une incomprehension 
naturelle de la Vie.” (Bergson, Evolution criairice, p. 179.) 


into account the total experience of Asia. While no sen- 
sible person would claim for the Far East a general ethi- 
cal superiority over the West, the Far East has at least 
enjoyed a comparative immunity from that great dis- 
ease of Occidental culture — the warfare between reason 
and faith. Buddha and Confucius both managed to com- 
bine humility with self-reliance and a cultivation of the 
critical spirit. They may, therefore, be of help to those 
who wish to restore to their lives on modem lines the 
element for which Asia has stood in the past, who be- 
heve that without some such restoration the Occident 
is in danger of going mad with the lust of speed and 
power. In describing the element of peace as the Asiatic 
element, I do not mean to set up any geographic or 
other fatalism. China, for example, may under pressure 
from the Occident have an industrial revolution (Han- 
kow is already taking on the aspect of an Oriental 
Pittsburgh) and this revolution is likely to be accom- 
panied by a more or less rapid crumbling of her tradi- 
tional ethos with the attendant danger of a lapse into 
sheer moral chaos. The Occident, on the other hand, 
may not only reaffirm the truths of the ethical will, but 
may reaffirm these truths in some appropriately modem 
way and with an emphasis distinctly different from any- 
thing that has been seen in the Orient. In dealing with 
this topic we can best take our point of departure from 
the fact that all who profess to be modem are, in some 
sense or other of the word, liberals. If there has been any 
vital omission in the passage from old to new, this omis- 
sion is likely to be most visible in one’s definition of 
liberty. Lord Acton was planning to begin his “History 



of Liberty” with a hundred such definitions. It is not 
certain that any one of the hundred would exactly have 
met our present requirement, which is to secure in 
some thoroughly critical fashion what I have termed the 
centripetal element in liberty. If one fails in this task, 
one ceases to be a complete modem and becomes a mere 
modernist. The modernist is wont to assume that the 
really important conflict is that between liberals, on the 
one hand, and reactionaries, on the other; a more im- 
portant conflict, however, may turn out to be that be- 
tween true and false liberals. 



The choice to which the modem man will finally be re- 
duced, it has been said, is that of being a Bolshevist or a 
Jesuit. In that case (assuming that by Jesuit is meant 
the ultramontane Catholic) there does not seem to be 
much room for hesitation. Ultramontane Catholicism 
does not, like Bolshevism, strike at the very root of 
civilization. In fact, under certain conditions that are 
already partly in sight, the Catholic Church may per- 
haps be the only institution left in the Occident that can 
be counted on to uphold civilized standards. It may also 
be possible, however, to be a thoroughgoing modem and 
at the same time civilized. Before considering this pos- 
sibility more in detail, it will be helpful to trace the proc- 
ess by which the present situation has grown up, a situ- 
ation that seems, at least superficially, to impose the 
extreme choice I have just mentioned. 

In tracing this process everything will be found to 
hinge ultimately on the idea of liberty in its relation to 
the principle of control. Under the old order, spiritual 
control, I have said, had its final source and sanction in 
the doctrine of grace. We need, therefore, to follow to 
some extent the fortunes of this doctrine as affected by 
the progressive emancipation, since the Renaissance, of 
the individual from outer authority and by the con- 
comitant growth of naturalistic tendencies. Certain 


groups within the Church itself, notably the Jansenists, 
sought to revive, in opposition to the incipient natural- 
istic movement, the doctrine of grace in its full Augus- 
tinian rigor. This doctrine originally marked the very 
apex of Christian otherworldliness, whereas, at the time 
of the Jansenist revival, men were turning more and 
more resolutely to this world. Saint-Evremond esti- 
mates that there were not ten men in France who could 
satisfy the Jansenist test of holiness. All other P'rench- 
men the Jansenists seemed to consign to outer darkness. 
In standing for a more moderate interpretation of grace 
the Catholic Church simply showed its good sense. What 
was more dubious was its tendency to substitute for the 
inner dependence of man on God that the Jansenist de- 
sired, his outer dependence on the priest. My present 
subject does not require me to consider the truth of the 
charge that the Church, in the effort to induce the indi- 
vidual to submit to its authority, dissimulated unduly 
the austerity of Christian doctrine; that, in short, it gave 
countenance to a casuistical relaxation, the upshot of 
which was, in Bossuet's phrase, to put “cushions under 
the elbows of sinners.” All I need to point out here is 
that the reply of the Church to individualistic tenden- 
cies of every kind has been an ever-increasing papal 
centralization. It may be said of the ultramontane 
Catholic, as of the extreme partisan of grace, though in a 
very different sense, that he has simply repudiated self- 

If one wishes to understand the types of individualism 
to which ultramontane Catholicism is such an uncom- 
promising answer, one needs to study also the doctrine 


of grace in its relation to the Protestant Reformation. 
Both Luther and Calvin, it is scarcely necessary to say, 
put prime emphasis on this doctrine, though not quite 
the same emphasis. Now the Reformation is, by its 
underlying postulates, a critical movement; it sought to 
recover the authentic Christian doctrine that seemed to 
it to have been perverted by the Roman theocracy. It 
urged the individual to take a critical attitude towards 
this theocracy, or, what amounts to the same thing, it 
urged him to exercise the right of private judgment, 
which is only another way of encouraging him to be self- 
dependent and self-reliant. But the Protestant was in- 
volved in peculiar difficulties as soon as he set out to be 
self-reliant and at the same time to defend the doctrine 
of grace; for the doctrine, in the Pauline and Augustinian 
form that a Luther and a Calvin sought to revive, was 
the very negation of self-reliance; it was designed to 
make man feel his utter and helpless dependence on the 
divine will. If a man is to be self-reliant, two things, it 
should seem, are necessary; he must have sound stand- 
ards and must then be free to act on them. To secure 
the standards he needs intellect and to act on them he 
needs will. Luther, for his part, wishes to be an individu- 
alist and at the same time to follow the early Christian 
obscurantists in flouting the intellect and denying the 
freedom of the will. Since the “covenant of work" was 
abrogated by the Fall, man’s will is in helpless bondage 
to sin,‘ so that God alone is capable of any salutary 
working; man's only hope, therefore, is in the covenant 
of grace and the scheme of redemption. To hold any 
* See Luther’s De servo arbilrio (1526). 


other view is subversive of hiunility. Luther's extreme 
hostihty to work is, of course, due also to the identifica- 
tion of work with the performance of rites and cere- 
monies, especially in connection with penance {satis- 
f actio operis). 

Luther and the other reformers had by their separa- 
tion from the Church cut themselves off more or less 
from the traditional symbols by which the truths of 
humility and of the higher will were interpreted to the 
imagination; so that, in their defence of these truths, 
they were thrown back, almost in spite of themselves, on 
reason. Erasmus with his fine psychological tact felt in 
the Reformation, almost from the outset, an element of 
intellectual presumption. If the impression that Calvin 
produces in his preaching of man’s utter dependence on 
the divine will is not precisely that of humility, one sus- 
pects that the explanation is that he presumes to know 
too much about that will. Jonathan Edwards, again, in 
his anxiety to justify rationally God’s absolute and ar- 
bitrary will, finally seems to have insinuated himself as a 
fourth into the council chamber of the Trinity. 

It is fair to say that the difficulty that confronted a 
Calvin and an Edwards and has led to at least a partial 
breakdown of Protestantism is no slight one: it must 
confront in some measure any one who seeks to combine 
a free play of the critical spirit with the acceptance of 
traditional Christianity. If one starts, as the traditional 
Christian has been wont to start, with the hypothesis of 
an omnipotent God with “foreknowledge absolute,” the 
question almost inevitably arises why such a being has 
permitted evil at all. Furthermore, strict logic would 


seem to impose the conclusion that this being has 
doomed a multitude of his creatures to everlasting tor- 
ments simply for doing what, in the last analysis, he 
himself has willed.^ In short, the critical crux at the 
heart of historical Christianity is how to reconcile God’s 
omnipotence and omniscience with his justice and 
mercy. The portion of the world that piques itself on its 
modernity has simply turned its back on this theological 
nightmare. Unfortunately, in getting rid of the night- 
mare, it has also tended to get rid of the inner life, of the 
truth, namely, that man needs in his natural self (which 
includes the intellect) to look up to some higher will in 
awe and humility. With the decline of the inner life, 
there has been a weakening of control over the expansive 
lusts of the natural man — whether the lust of knowledge 
or the lust of sensation or the lust of power. 

In the development I have been following, the idea of 
work in the spiritual sense is either very much subordi- 
nated to grace or else is more or less identified with the 
performance of rites and ceremonies.^ We need to trace 
at this point the rise of a very different doctrine of work. 
The last scholastics, notably Duns Scotus, inclined to 
divorce religious truth from reason and to identify it 
with absolute, arbitrary will and unintelligible theologi- 
cal mysteries. A man like Francis Bacon takes theo- 

* “Dieu non seulement a pr6vu la chute du premier homme et 
en elle la mine de toute sa post6rit4, mais il I’a ainsi voulu." (Cal- 
vin, ItisL chrit., liv. in, ch. xxiii, par. 7.) Melanethon declares in 
his Commentary on Epistle to Romans (1525) that “God works all 
things. . . . He is the author of the treason of Judas as well as 
of the conversion of Paul.” 

• The Church was supposed to be able to work efiBcaciously in 
this sense because of the grace that had been delegated to it. 



logians of this type at their word and, after a more or 
less sincere obeisance to a spiritual truth that is im- 
measurably beyond man’s grasp, he turns an intellect 
that is left without other occupation to a study of the 
natural order. He aims to establish upon this order a 
philosophy, not of vain words, but of works and fruits. 
The Baconian conception of work can be followed down 
through the utilitarian movement. It appears, for ex- 
ample, in an extreme form in Locke’s second “Treatise 
of Government.” Work is practically identified by 
Locke with physical efiort and is made the sole legiti- 
mate source of property. Adam Smith tends to a very 
similar conception of work in its relation to property. 
In thus reducing the idea of work to its lowest terms, the 
orthodox political economy opened the way for political 
economy of the unorthodox type. Karl Marx was espe- 
cially influenced in his definition of work by Ricardo. 
Why should not the man who, on the showing of the 
orthodox political economists themselves, does the real 
work, get all the reward? Why should he turn over such 
a large part of this reward to that mere idler and parar 
site, the capitalist? Though the orthodox economist 
makes work in an unduly restricted sense the source of 
wealth, he does not, to do him justice, fall, like the Marx- 
ian, into the further fallacy of identifying work with 
value. That, he insists, is largely determined by the law 
of supply and demand and by competition. The ex- 
treme Marxian not only takes a purely quantitative 
view of work, so much so that he tends, as has been said, 
to put the work of a Raphael and that of a common sign 
painter on the same level, but in evaluating the product 


of work he aims to eliminate the competitive element. 
Recent Marxians have come to take a somewhat less 
quantitative view of work, but the fallacies that result 
from a total or partial suppression of competition are 
bu3t into the veiy foundations of socialism. 

One should note at this point that in their views as to 
the nature of work there is much underljdng agreement 
between the Rousseauist and the Baconian. Rousseau 
himself tends to reduce work to the lowest terms and to 
identify it with manual labor. All who do not work in 
this outward and visible sense are, it would seem, hang- 
ers-on and parasites and not worthy to live.^ The at- 
tempt to apply the utilitarian-sentimental conception of 
work and at the same time to eliminate competition has 
resulted in Russia in a ruthless despotism, on the one 
hand, and in a degrading servitude, on the other. 

A conception of work that means practically a return 
to barbarism evidently suffers from some serious flaw. 
The man who wishes to be at once modem and civilized 
will not oppose to the Baconian or Rousseauistic one- 
sidedness a mere appeal to the past, but a more accurate 
definition. Aristotle was, according to Bacon, the “vile 
plaything of words.” As a matter of fact, the surest way 
to become the 'vdle plaything of words is, like both Bacon 
and Rousseau, to look on visible and concrete objects as 
“real” and on words, in contrast with these objects, as 
unreal. Words, especially abstract words, have such an 
important relation to reality because they control the 

1 “Un rentier que I’Etatpaie pournerienfairenediff6regu6re 
h mes yeux d’un brigand qoi yit auz d£pens des passanta,” etc., 
Etnile, Livre m. 



imagination which in turn determines action and so 
“governs mankind.” The way to escape from the tyr- 
anny of words is not to dismiss them as unreal in favor 
of objects of sense, but to submit them to a searching 
Socratic dialectic. The only way, for instance, not to be 
the dupe of the general term “work” is to divide or 
“dichotomize” it Socratically and so become aware of 
the different meanings of which it is susceptible. The 
fallacies involved in a purely quantitative definition of 
work are almost too gross to need refuting. As Mencius 
remarked long ago, it is both proper and inevitable that 
the man who works with his mind should hold sway over 
the man who works only with his hands. As a result of 
the concentrated mental effort of the gifted few, an 
effort displayed either in invention or else in organiza- 
tion and management, the common laborer may to-day 
enjoy comforts that were out of the reach even of the 
opulent only two or three generations ago. If the laborer 
wishes to add to these comforts or even to keep them, he 
should not listen to the agitator who seeks to stir up his 
envy of every form of superiority. He should be the 
first to recognize that exceptional capacity should re- 
ceive exceptional rewards. 

The laborer, to be sure, has a grievance; this griev- 
ance is that those who have been set over him have 
concentrated so exclusively in their mental working on 
the material order. The real problem is to subordinate 
to some adequate end the enormous mass of machinery 
of power and comfort that has been the fruit of working 
of the utilitarian t3q)e; and here a specifically ethical 
type of working is needful. Now this specifically ethical 


working has been associated traditionally in the Occi- 
dent with the doctrine of grace; for man to substitute 
his work for that of God seemed to be subversive of 
humility. Yet thus to emphasize God’s working led, I 
have tried to show, to an impossible theological di- 
lemma; so that men tended, in getting rid of the di- 
lemma, to get rid of the true work of the spirit in favor 
of a merely Baconian working. The problem would 
seem to be to recover the truths of grace in some individ- 
ualistic form. We may be aided in this task by tmrning 
for a moment to the Far-Eastern teacher who com- 
bined humility with the ultimate degree of spiritual self- 
reliance. The word karma (work) has come to have in 
the Occident a sort of mystical glamour. But it is well 
to remember that this word is employed by Buddha 
himself in the most business-like fashion. The man who 
wishes, he says, to be a carpenter must do the work of 
a carpenter; the man who wishes to be a king must do 
the work of a king; the man who wishes to be a saint 
must do the work of a saint. One simply passes, as one 
mounts in the scale, from an outer to an inner working. 
The individual is to impose progressively his ethical will, 
affirmed as an immediate fact of consciousness, upon his 
outgoing desires. He is to perform this work of the spirit 
with a view to his own happiness, or, what amounts to 
the same thing in the eyes of the Buddhist, with a view 
to his own peace. “By rousing himself,” says Buddha, 
“by strenuousness, by restraint and control, the wise 
man may make for himself an island which no flood can 
overwhelm.” The supreme contrast in this faith is al- 
ways that between the spiritually strenuous person and 
the spiritual idler. 


Though probably no other teacher of the past has 
dealt with the idea of work so thoroughly as Buddha, the 
Buddhist emphasis does not seem just what we need 
to-day. Buddha was, like Christ, very otherworldly. 
The work in which he was primarily interested was of 
the type that leads to saintliness. It may show a lack 
of imagination on my part, but I cannot imagine my 
contemporaries in the role of saints. Perhaps no age 
was ever more lacking in otherworldhness or showed a 
greater incomprehension of religion. We have converted 
Buddha into a sort of heavy-eyed pessimistic dreamer, 
and, following Rousseau, have sentimentalized the 
figure of Christ. It might be well, therefore, for us to 
undertake something more within our capacity than 
religion. In general, for one person who has even an 
inkling of the nature of a genuinely religious working 
and of the strenuous peace at which religion aims, at 
least a hundred persons can be found who can grasp to 
some extent the type of work that has its fruition in the 
mediatory or humanistic virtues. Now humanism must, 
like religion, rest on the recognition, in some form or 
other, of the inner life, or, what amounts to the same 
thing, on the opposition between a law of the spirit and 
a law of the members. It must also, like religion, sub- 
ordinate intellect to the ethical will and so put its ulti- 
mate emphasis on humility. In this matter of humility 
the Western humanist has something to learn, as I have 
already hinted, from Confucian China. 

Though religion and the best type of humanism are 
at one in stressing humility, they diverge widely in their 
attitude towards the expansive desires. In its pursuit 


of the otherworldly virtue of peace, religion tends to 
renounce these desires completely, whereas humanism 
would simply moderate and harmonize them with a 
view to living to the best advantage in this world. As a 
result of his particular confusion of the things of God 
and the things of Caesar, the humanitarian would have 
us set up peace as a primary good in the secular order. 
He hopes to secure this peace by some form of machin- 
ery (such as a league of nations) or else by an appeal 
to emotion. “Peace is my passion,” exclaimed the ex- 
pansive Thomas Jefferson. But the person who turns 
peace into a passion is not entering upon the pathway 
of peace either within himself or in the outer world. It 
is possible to show that the pacifist is not only a material- 
ist, but a very objectionable type of materialist. In the 
name of the fairest of virtues, he is actually engaged in 
breaking down ethical standards. It is a matter of com- 
mon sense and everyday experience that there can be no 
peace with the unrighteous and the unrighteous always 
have been and are extremely numerous. As another in- 
stance of the humanitarian confusion of values, one may 
cite the assertion of Woodrow Wilson that a nation may 
be “too proud to fight.” An individual may be too 
humble to fight, but a nation that is too proud to fight 
may, in a world like this, be too proud to survive as a 
nation. The virtue that sums up all other virtues in the 
secular order is, as every thinker worthy of the name has 
always seen, not peace but justice. Now any one who 
deals positively with the idea of justice will almost in- 
evitably be led to define it: To every man according 
to his works; and the adequacy of this definition will 


depend in turn on the adequacy of one’s definition of 

The humanitarians, I have pointed out, from Bacon 
down, are extraordinarily superficial in their definition 
of work. Even when they do not fall into the cruder 
quantitative fallacies, they conceive of work in terms of 
the natural law and of the outer world and not in terms 
of the inner life.* They do not take account of that form 
of work w'hich consists in the superimposition of the 
ethical will upon the natural self and its expansive de- 
sires. The very notion of this form of work has, I have 
said, tended to disappear with the decline of the doctrine 
of grace. 

If we grant, then, that what is needed just now is a 
revival of the ethical will on the secular level, where it is 
felt as a will to justice, rather than on the religious level, 
where it is felt as a will to peace, and if we grant further 
that justice, positively defined, consists in giving to 
every man according to his works, let us seek to restore 
to the idea of work the elements that have been omitted 
by the humanitarians. We may be aided in such a res- 
toration by Greek philosophy, even though we do not 

* The writer of some verses in an Ohio newspaper, after com- 
plaining of the failure of the millennium to arrive in spite of the 
efforts of “many scores of dreamers, poets, orators and schemers,” 
concludes as follows ; 

And so I hold it is not treaaon 

To advance a simple reason 

For the sorry lack of progress we deory. 

It is this: instead of working 
On himself, each man is shirking, 

And trying to reform some other guy. 

The author of this doggerel is nearer to the wisdom of the ages 
than some of our college presidents. 


agree with the tendency of the Socratic group to identify 
right reason and right will. The Platonic definition of 
justice as doing one’s own work or minding one’s own 
business has perhaps never been surpassed. It brings 
one straight back to the truths of the inner life. Justice 
results when every part of a man is performing its proper 
function and especially when his higher self is perfonn- 
ing its proper function of coordinating and controlling 
the inferior parts of his nature. An echo of this Platonic 
conception is found in the Senecan definition of justice; 
Animus quodam modo se habens. Justice in the outer 
world must, in the last analysis, be only a reflection of 
the harmony and proportionateness that have resulted 
in certain individuals from the working of the spirit 
upon itself. 

Aristotle’s view of justice has much in common with 
the Platonic view. In defining justice he starts, not from 
society, but from the individual who limits desires that 
are in themselves insatiable and imposes upon them the 
law of measure. A State in which such indiriduals are 
sufficiently numerous to set the tone is a just State. 
Justice, whether retributive or distributive, must be 
proportionate in its rewards and penalties, and it can be 
thus proportionate only by taking account of the higher 
form of working. The disciplining of the expansive de- 
sires to the law of measure which constitutes this higher 
form of working must, to be effective, begin early and 
become habitual. The necessary basis, therefore, of an 
ethical type of State is an ethical type of education. 

Aristotle makes not only justice but happiness depend 
on what he calls “energizing according to virtue.” He 


finally carries his conception of work from the human- 
istic to the religious level, from mediation to meditation 
or the life of “vision,” defining God himself as pure act. 
It has seemed to some that the activity the individual 
displays in the life of vision is so disassociated from the 
activity that he displays in his relations with his fellow 
men as to encourage the ascetic excess of the Middle 
Ages. The altruist, indeed, would maintain that both 
the Platonic and Aristotelian definitions of justice, en- 
couraging a man as they do to put his own work before 
the world’s work, are selfish and anti-social. A man 
should renounce self and give himself up to sympathy 
and service. But there is something, we should remind 
the altruist, that the world needs even more than our 
service, and that is our example. “Example,” as Burke 
says, “ is the school of mankind ; it will learn at no other.” 
Now a man becomes exemplary only as the result of 
either a religious or a humanistic working. The man who 
works religiously helps the world, one is tempted to 
affirm, by the very act of renouncing it. He sets his fel- 
low men the most important of all examples — that of 
unworldliness. If Buddha has dealt profoundly with the 
form of work by which one becomes exemplary on the 
religious level, Confucius has shown, even more ade- 
quately, perhaps, than Aristotle, the benefits that accrue 
to society and civilization from a humanistic working. 
Confucius has summed up his teaching in a sentence: 
Loyalty to oneself and charity towards one’s neighbor. 
The altruist might accept this formula provided he were 
allowed to give the first place to the charity towards 
one’s neighbor. But to do so is entirely un-Confucian. 


The individual must first of all look up to something 
higher than either himself or his neighbor in order that 
he may be worthy to be looked up to in turn. Of his ideal 
ruler, Shun, Confucius says: “Shun was one who did 
nothing, yet governed well. For what, in effect, did he 
do? Religiously self-observant, he sat gravely on his 
throne, and that is all.” All that Confucius means to 
affirm by this passage is the superiority of inner over 
outer action (of which, as we learn from other passages, 
his monarch was also capable). Shun was, in short, 
minding his own business in the Platonic sense, and such 
was the persuasiveness of his example that others were 
led to do likewise; whereas, with the present trend 
towards “social Justice,” the time is rapidly approach- 
ing when everybody will be minding everybody else’s 
business. For the conscience that is felt as a still small 
voice and that is the basis of real justice, we have substi- 
tuted a social conscience that operates rather through a 
megaphone. The busybody, for the first time perhaps in 
the history of the world, has been taken at his own esti- 
mate of himself. We are in fact, as some one remarked, 
living in the Meddle Ages; inasmuch as the meddling is 
itself only an outcome of our confused definition of jus- 
tice, the cynic might suggest, as an even more correct 
description of the time, the Muddle Ages. 

Perhaps, indeed, the meddling and the muddling are 
not quite so widespread as one is at times tempted to 
suppose. There are probably still a few persons left who 
realize the importance of minding their own business, 
even though not in the full Platonic or Confucian sense. 
There is probably an element of exaggeration in a recent 


assertion that to the question, “Am I my brother’s 
keeper?” the whole American people had rephed in an 
“ecstatic affirmative.” One should note in passing the 
intolerable dilution of the principle of obligation that is 
implied in extending to men indiscriminately what one 
owes to one’s own brother. At all events, no small issues 
are involved in the question whether one should start 
with an expansive eagerness to do something for hu- 
manity or with loyalty to one’s self. There may be some- 
thing after all in the Confucian idea that if a man only 
sets himseK right, the rightne^ will extend to his family 
first of all, and finally in widening circles to the whole 

One’s definition of work and of justice in terms of 
work will be found to be inseparably bound up with one’s 
definition of liberty. The only true freedom is freedom 
to work. All the evidence goes to show that there is no 
safety in the nature of things for the idler and that the 
most perilous of all forms of idling is spiritual idling. 
The failure to take account of the subtler forms of work- 
ing is what vitiates the attempts of the utihtarian to 
define liberty — for example, the attempt of J. S. Mill. 
If a man is only careful not to injm-e his fellow men, he 
should then, according to Mill, be free to cultivate his 
idiosyncrasy. One cannot grant in the first place that 
any such sharp division between the altruistic and the 
self-regarding elements in human nature is possible; 
and even if one did grant it, one should have to insist 
that the self-regarding virtues are the most important 
even from the point of view of society; for it is only by 
the exercise of these virtues that one becomes exem- 


plary and so, as I have tried to show, truly helpful to 

If society should in its own interests encourage those 
who work with their minds as compared with those who 
work with their hands, how much more should it give 
recognition to those who are engaged in a genuinely 
ethical working. It is in fact the quality of a man’s work 
that should determine his place in the hierarchy that 
every civilized society requires. In short, from the posi- 
tive point of view, work is the only justification of aris- 
tocracy. “By work,” says Buddha, “a man is noble, by 
work he is an outcast.” ‘ The principle, though sound, is 
not, one must confess, altogether easy to apply. Though 
justice require that every man receive according to the 
quantity and the quality of his work, there is in this com- 
petition a manifest inequality from the start. One man 
has an innate capacity that another cannot acquire by 
any amount of effort. God, according to the Platonic 
myth, has mingled lead with the nature of some and 
with the nature of others silver and gold. Stress unduly 
the initial differences between men and one will tend to 
fall into some system of caste, as Plato himself tends to 
do, or else one will incline to fatalism, whether natural- 
istic or predestinarian. On the other hand, deny these 
differences in favor of some equalitarian theory and one 
runs counter to the most palpable facts. Genuine justice 
seems to demand that men should be judged, not by 
their intentions or their endeavors, but by their actual 
performance; that in short the natural aristocrat, as 
Burke terms him, should receive his due reward, whether 
‘ SvitOrNvp&ta, V. 135 . 


one attribute his superiority, with the man of science, to 
heredity, or, with the Christian, to grace, or, with the 
Buddhist, to his past working. 

One’s view of work and of the rewards that it deserves 
will determine necessarily one’s attitude towards prop- 
erty. From the pomt of view of civilization, it is of the 
highest moment that certain individuals should in every 
community be relieved from the necessity of working 
with their hands in order that they may engage in the 
higher forms of working and so qualify for leadership. 
If the civilization is to be genuine, it must have men of 
leisure in the full Aristotelian sense. Those who in any 
particular community are allowed to enjoy property 
that is not the fruit of their own outer and visible toil 
cannot, therefore, afford to be idlers and parasites. An 
aristocratic or leading class, however the aristocratic 
principle is conceived, must, if it hopes in the long run 
to preserve its property and privileges, be in some degree 
exemplary. It is only too clear that the members of the 
French aristocracy of the Old Regime failed, in spite of 
many honorable exceptions, to measure up to this test. 
Some have argued from the revelations of recent writers 
hke Colonel Repington and Mrs. Asquith that the Eng- 
lish aristocracy is also growing degenerate. People will 
not consent in the long run to look up to those who are 
not themselves looking up to something higher than 
their ordinary selves. A leading class that has become 
Epicurean and self-indulgent is lost. Above all it cannot 
afford to give the first place to material goods. One may, 
indeed, lay down the principle that, if property as a 
means to an end is the necessary basis of civilization. 


property as an end in itself is materialism. In view of 
the natural insatiableness of the human spirit, no ex- 
ample is more necessary than that of the man who is 
setting limi ts to his desire for worldly possessions. The 
only remedy for economic inequality, as Aristotle says, 
is “to train the nobler sort of natures not to desire 
more ” ; * this remedy is not in mechanical schemes for 
dividing up property; “for it is not the possessions but 
the desires of mankind which require to be equalized.” ^ 
The equalization of desire in the Aristotelian sense re- 
quires on the part of individuals a genuinely ethical or 
humanistic working. To proclaim equality on some 
basis that requires no such working will result ironically. 
For example, this country committed itself in the Dec- 
laration of Independence to the doctrine of natural 
equahty. The type of individualism that was thus 
encouraged has led to monstrous inequalities and, with 
the dechne of traditional standards, to the rise of a 
raw plutocracy. A man who amasses a billion dollars 
is scarcely exemplary in the Aristotelian sense, even 
though he then proceeds to lay out half a billion upon 
philanthropy. The remedy for such a failure of the man 
at the top to curb his desires does not lie, as the agitator 
would have us believe, in inflaming the desires of the 
man at the bottom; nor again in substituting for real 
justice some phantasmagoria of social justice. As a 
result of such a substitution, one will presently be turn- 
ing from the pimishment of the individual offender to an 
attack on the institution of property itself; and a war on 
capital will speedily degenerate, as it always has in the 
1 PolUics, 1267b * Ihid., 1266b. 


past, into a war on thrift and industry in favor of lazi- 
ness and incompetence, and finally into schemes of con- 
fiscation that profess to be idealistic and are in fact sub- 
versive of common honesty. Above all, social justice is 
likely to be unsound m its partial or total suppression of 
competition. Without competition it is impossible that 
the ends of true justice should be fulfilled — namely, 
that every man should receive according to his works. 
The principle of competition is, as Hesiod pointed out 
long ago, built into the very roots of the world; ‘ there is 
something in the nature of things that calls for a real 
victory and a real defeat. Competition is necessary to 
rouse man from his native indolence; without it life loses 
its zest and savor. Only, as Hesiod goes on to say, there 
are two types of competition — the one that leads to 
bloody war and the other that is the mother of enter- 
prise and high achievement. He does not perhaps make 
as clear as he might how one may have the sound rivalry 
and, at the same time, avoid the type that degenerates 
into pernicious strife. But surely the reply to this ques- 
tion is found in such sentences of Aristotle as those I 
have just been quoting. The remedy for the evils of 
competition is found in the moderation and magnanimity 
of the strong and the successful, and not in any sickly 
sentimentalizing over the lot of the underdog. The mood 
of unrest and insurgency is so rife to-day as to suggest 
that our leaders, instead of thus controlling themselves, 
are guilty of an extreme psychic unrestraint. 

One should note a certain confusion on the part of the 
advocates of social justice as to the nature of capital. 

‘ See beginning of Works and Days. 


Dr. Johnson is reported to have said at the sale of 
Thrale’s brewer^'; “We are not here to sell a parcel of 
boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich 
beyond the dreams of avarice.” The realizing of the 
potentiality depended, of course, on the ability of the 
management, and this ability was not only a part, but 
the essential part, of the capital of the brewerj'. It is 
being assumed at present that the capital invested in 
our railways may be measured by what one may term 
their junk value. As a result of this and similar fallacies, 
both the owners and managers of the railways have been 
so treated of recent years as to discourage enterprise in 
this field of industry. It seems easy to convince the pub- 
lic that the railways are suffering from watered stock 
when what they are really suffering from is watered 
labor. If our apostles of service and social justice have 
their way, that considerable portion of the savings of the 
middle class that is now inve.sted in the railways, either 
directly or indirectly through the insurance companies 
and savings banks, may undergo partial or total con- 

Every form of social justice, indeed, tends to confisca- 
tion and confiscation, when practised on a large scale, 
undermines moral standards and, in so far, substitutes 
for real justice the law of c unnin g and the law of force. 
To be on one’s guard against these perils of social jus- 
tice, one needs that cooperation of keen analysis and 
imagination that can alone produce genuine vision; 
whereas a great number of persons are weak in analysis, 
and idyllic rather than ethical in their imagining. Not 
being able, as a result, to get at imderlying causes, they 



are prone to doctor symptoms and to resort to what 
Burke calls “tricking short-cuts, and little fallacious 
facilities.” The apparent good turns out to be evil in its 
secondary consequences, and the apparent evil turns out 
to be the necessary condition of some good. Things of- 
ten change their aspect, not once but several times, when 
thus traced in their ultimate effects. The ordinary 
laboring man, for instance, may not be able to see that 
the “levy upon capital,” for which he is urged to vote 
in the name of social justice, will finally recoil upon him- 
self. It is not yet clear that it is going to be possible to 
combine universal suffrage with the degree of safety for 
the institution of property that genuine justice and 
genuine civilization both require. Taxation without 
representation was the main grievance of the American 
revolutionists; but that is precisely what an important 
section of the community has to submit to to-day. Can 
those who tax in the name of the sovereign people be 
counted on to tax more equitably than those who alleged 
the royal prerogative? 

Among all the forms of dishonesty that assume the 
idealistic mask, perhaps none is more diabolically effec- 
tive in unsettling the bases of civilized life than those 
that involve a tampering with the monetary standard. 
If property stands for work in some sense or other of the 
word, and if money is the conventional symbol of prop- 
erty, the ends of justice tend to be subverted if this 
symbol fluctuates wildly; thrift and foresight become 
meaningless; no man can be sure that he will receive 
according to his works. Inflation of the currency 
amounts in practice to an odious form of confiscation, 


whether it is supposed, as in Germany, to promote nar 
tional interests or, as in Russia, to advance internation- 
alism. The radical, it has been pointed out, often errs in 
confounding money with property and in supposmg that 
a division of money would be the same as a division of 
actual wealth. Though money is only a conventional 
token, the nature of this token is, nevertheless, not a 
matter of indifference. The reason for the gold standard 
is simple: gold involves in its production an amoimt of 
work equal approximately to the work involved in pro- 
ducing the various commodities for which it may be 
exchanged. If for any reason gold is produced more 
abundantly and with less effort, or if the reverse takes 
place, the monetary standard fluctuates; and this is an 
evil, but a trifling evil (human nature being what it is), 
compared with that which results from the substitution 
for gold of paper or some other medium of exchange 
that when, tested in terms of work, has little intrinsic 

The modem man is as a matter of fact being whip- 
sawed between two contradictory tendencies. On the 
one hand, he is being involved nationally and interna- 
tionally in an ever more complex network of material 
relationships which rest in turn on an extraordinarily 
delicate mechanism of credit and exchange. On the 
other hand, the various idealistic schemes that are being 
put forward as a substitute for common honesty, or, 
again, the schemes, whether economic or political, that 
are openly imperialistic, are undermining the confidence 
that is the necessary basis of credit and exchange: so 
that the whole elaborate structure that has been reared 



by the industrial revolution is in danger of collapse. 
The political economists who promoted this revolution 
were, according to Carlyle, in favor of making cash pay- 
ment the sole nexus between man and man. Cash pa}'’- 
ment, however, cannot serve as a nexus between men 
who are spiritually centrifugal. In various parts of 
eastern Europe, men have already become so suspicious 
of cash payment that they have been forced to revert in 
their economic contacts to barter. 

The evils I have been emunerating derive in no small 
degree from the one-sided notion of work that has pre- 
vailed in the utilitarian movement. The interests of 
property itself require that at least some members of a 
community should work in a very different sense, that 
they should limit in short their own acquisitive instincts 
and so serve society by setting it a good example. It 
does not follow that the best way to secure such work 
from a man is to urge upon him the interests of society. 
Leslie Stephen, himself a utilitarian, says that “the doc- 
trine that each man can only care for bis own happiness 
is terribly plausible, and fits in admirably with individ- 
ualism.” It does indeed; so much so that the wisest 
way of reaching the individual may be to point out to 
him, not how his conduct will affect the happiness of 
others, but how it will affect his own happiness. Only 
in that case one must be careful to define happiness, not 
like the utilitarian and the Epicurean, in terms of 
pleasure, but like an Aristotle or a Buddha, in terms of 
work. One may apply this method not merely to the 
reining in of the acquisitive instincts, but to the control 
of the ins tinct of sex. Sexual unrestraint has wrought 


and is wreaking fearful havoc to society. The resultant 
diseases are, even more than alcoholism, a menace to 
the future of the white race. To approach the subject 
from another angle, there is an undoubted connection 
between a certain type of centrifugal and self-indulgent 
individualism and an unduly declining birth-rate. The 
French and also the Americans of native descent are, if 
we are to trust statistics, in danger of withering from 
the earth. Where the population is increasing, it is, we 
are told, at the expense of quality. The stocks to which 
the past has looked for its leaders are dying out and the 
inferior or even degenerate breeds are multiplying. 

The humanitarian remedies for evils of this order seem 
especially doubtful. Such schemes for regulating the 
relations of sex as have been put forward by the be- 
lievers in eugenics are likely to lead to a tyranny at 
once grotesque and Ineffectual. On the other hand, the 
evidence is slight that the individual can be induced to 
control himself on such general grounds as the good of 
country or the good of humanity or the good of the 
white race menaced by “the rising tide of color.” Re- 
ligion may be right after all in dealing with the whole 
question of sex in terms of the inner life. According to 
a French moralist, man is made up in his natural self of 
a little vanity and a little voluptuousness. The Christian 
would substitute chastity and humility. Though the 
humanist would moderate rather than deny entirely the 
most imperious form of the libido senliendi, he agrees 
with the Christian in starting with the struggle between 
vital impulse and vital control. He would have the in- 
dividual exercise the control not primarily for the good 


of society, but for liis own good. Nowhere indeed is the 
opposition between pleasure and happiness more visible 
than in matters of sex. 

The more one considers our modem emancipation, 
the more it becomes clear that it has been at the expense 
of what I have termed the centripetal element in liberty; 
and without this centripetal element or ethical will any 
genuine working of the spirit becomes impossible. How, 
one may ask, have men been able to deceive themselves 
as to the gravity of the error? One way in which they 
have deceived themselves, it may be rephed, has been 
to offer work according to the natural law as a substi- 
tute for work according to the human law. As good an 
example as any is that of Faust who is supposed to make 
up for moral delinquencies by reclaiming marshlands 
from the sea. Carlyle, who professes to be a follower of 
Goethe, is even more defective in his idea of work. In- 
stead of the Socratic “Know thyself,” he would adopt 
as his gospel : “ Know thy work and do it.” ^ Thus to 
disparage the effort at self-knowledge because man, as 
Carlyle goes on to say, is in the abstract and metaphysi- 
cal sense unknowable, is simply, under existing con- 
ditions, to discredit the inner life in favor of a mere 
outer working. Work when conceived in this one-sided 
fashion degenerates into mere efficiency. Carlyle, as a 
matter of fact, exalts not only the eflBciency of the “cap- 
tain of industry” (a phrase that he apparently origi- 
nated), but the military eflSciency of a Frederick the 
Great or even of a Dr. Francia. In spite of his desperate 
efforts to prove to himself and others the contrary, he, 
‘ Past and Present, ch. xi (beginning). 


therefore, tends in his philosophy to be imperialistic 
rather than genuinely ethical. His “hero” is at the very 
least a first cousin of the Nietzschean superman; they 
both have an authentic descent from the “origmal 
genius ” of the eighteenth century. 

A point worth considering is the position not merely 
of the “captain” but of the private in the modem army 
of industry. It is trae that, like the rest of us, this 
private must find his happiness in work or not at all. 
One may, however, raise the question whether he may 
be expected to find his happiness in the type of efficiency 
that has been developed by the industrial revolution. 
This efficiency has been achieved by an endless subdivi- 
sion of effort until the individual worker has tended to 
become a mere cog in a gigantic machine. He works 
with only an infinitesimal portion of himself. At times, 
indeed, he can scarcely be said to work at all; the ma- 
chine does the working and seems to lead a less auto- 
matic fife than the person who tends it. A workman in 
one of Henry Ford's factories is reported to have replied, 
when asked his name, that he was “bolt No. 29.” A 
multitude of men are thus mechanized in order that the 
captain of industry may be “vital” and “dynamic,” or, 
what amounts to the same thing as the words are now 
used, may live in a state of psychic unrestraint. For one 
may affirm with some confidence that a man who thinks 
it worth while to pile up an income said to be greater 
than that of J. D. Rockefeller is not engaged in a very 
energetic humanistic or religious working. If the ordi- 
nary industrial private foUows the example of the "cap- 
tain” and sets out to be “vital” and “dynamic” in his 



turn, either in his own person or through his unions and 
their leaders, the result wUl be chaos; for he will thus 
disturb the nice adjustment of parts on which the suc- 
cessful functioning of the whole mechanism depends. 

I am not, indeed, afBrming that the multiplication of 
machines is an unmixed evil. This multiphcation has 
made it possible for one man to do work that would 
formerly have required a dozen or even a hundred men, 
and so has lifted a load of drudgery from the shoulders 
of many and opened up to them the opportunities of 
leisure. “No man,” says Aristotle, “can practise virtue 
who is living the life of a mechanic or laborer.” But the 
laborer now has opportunities such as have never before 
existed to become something more. Unfortunately, as 
we all know, he is not using his relief from drudgery to 
enjoy leisure in the Aristotelian sense, but to seek amuse- 
ments, in which he is almost as much subordinated to 
machines as he is in his working moments (automobiles, 
phonographs, moving pictures and the like). Perhaps 
the fault is not so much in the laborer himself as in the 
pattern that is being offered him by the man “higher 

The very unexemplary type of individualism I have 
been discussing can be showm to derive not only from the 
utilitarian conception of life in general, but from the 
political economy of the school of Adam Smith in par- 
ticular. Let the State stand aside, says Adam Smith, 
and give the individual free swing {laisser faire). He will 
not abuse this freedom, for he will be guided by an en- 
lightened self-interest. Now the doctrine of, enlightened 
self-interest is not in itself superficial. It has been held 


by really profound thinkers like Aristotle and Buddha. 
But the self that these thinkers have in mind is not the 
self that makes the pursuit of wealth its first aim, but 
the ethical self that exercises control over this acquisi- 
tive self. Leave the acquisitive self without this control 
and the right kind of competition will degenerate into 
the wrong kind, the ruthless kind which was actually 
encouraged by the Manchester School of economics and 
in which mill operatives become mere “cannon-fodder” 
in the industrial warfare. Nor will competition of this 
sort have a sufficient counterpoise in sympathy or altru- 
ism. The efficiency of sympathy as a substitute for the 
ethical will is at all events the crucial issue in this whole 
movement. Everything will be found to hinge ulti- 
mately on this point in our current gospel of “service,” 
a gospel in which most men seem to believe as unques- 
tioningly nowadays as they once did in the Trinity. Yet 
the foundations of this gospel can be shown, on strictly 
psychological grounds, to be highly precarious. 

In the first place the idea of “service” as now under- 
stood is not Christian. The Christian serves not man 
but God, and this service, as we learn from the Prayer 
Book, is “ perfect freedom.” Service in the humanitarian 
sense has, on the other hand, important points of con- 
tact with Stoicism. The Stoic sought, like the humani- 
tarian, to regulate his conduct with reference to the 
general welfare of mankind. Important differences need, 
however, to be noted between the humanitarian and the 
Stoic. The Stoic did not hold at aU or held only in very 
rudimentary form the doctrine of progress; he did not 
think of men in the mass as moving forward almost 


automatically towards “a far-off divine event.” Prog- 
ress of this automatic type, when subjected to severe 
psychological scrutiny, will be found to resolve itself 
either into a delight in change for its own sake or a de- 
light in change for the sake of power and comfort. The 
confusion between moral and material progress that the 
utilitarian has promoted can be shown to involve a tam- 
pering with general terms similar to that which I have 
already noted in speaking of Rousseau and the senti- 
mentalists. Disraeli says that the English-speaking peo- 
ples have been unable to distinguish between comfort 
and civilization. The word comfort itself is an excellent 
example of the illegitimate transfer of a general term 
from one scheme of values to another. “Blessed are 
they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” The 
American of the present day wishes to get his comfort 
without any preliminary mourning. 

As a result of the confusion between moral and ma- 
terial progress the modern man has developed an inor- 
dinate confidence in organization and efficiency and in 
general in machineiy as a means for the attainment of 
ethical ends. If he is told that civilization is in danger, 
his first instinct is to appoint a committee to save civili- 
zation. The League of Nations is itself only a super- 

Progress in the utilitarian sense is, however, an even 
less essential element in the idealistic creed than sym- 
pathy. In this matter of sympathy one must note again 
a difference between the Stoic and the humanitarian. 
If, on the one hand, the Stoic had less confidence in 
machinery than the humanitarian, he was, on the other 


hand, less emotionally expansive. Interesting questions 
of this kind come up, as I have already noted, in dealing 
with Shaftesbury and his influence. The Stoical derivar 
tion of one whole side of Shaftesbury’s philosophy is so 
manifest that some have sought to present him as a pure 
disciple of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. But the fact 
remains that the Stoics were not sentimentalists and that 
Shaftesbury can be shown to be a main source of senti- 
mentalism in England and even more perhaps in Ger- 
many. The right reason of the Stoics is indeed already 
taking on an emotional coloring in an English precursor 
of Shaftesbury hke Cinnberland. In their tendency to 
identify happiness and pleasure the utilitarians remind 
us less of the Stoics than of the Epicureans. The Epi- 
curean “ataraxy,” however, did not any more than the 
Stoic “apathy” encourage effusiveness; neither Stoic 
nor Epiciuean was prone to “let his feelings run in soft 
luxurious flow” and then call the result “virtue.” Of 
Rousseau’s exaltation of impulsive pity as a sufficient 
offset to egoistic impulse and the source of aU the other 
virtues, I have already spoken. Of almost equal im- 
portance is Hume’s assertion, professedly on strictly 
psychological grounds, of an element of sympathy in the 
natural man, anterior to reason and independent of self- 
love. Sympathy becomes in turn the basis of Hume’s 
definition of justice. The just man for Hume is not the 
man who minds his own business in the Platonic sense, 
but the altruist.^ 

' Justice is, according to Hume, an “artificial” virtue; its im- 
mediate source is an enlightened self-interest. Its ultimate source, 
like that of all the other virtues, is “an extensive sympathy with 


The crucial question, of course, is not whether a man 
in his spontaneous and natural self ill sjm^patliize wdth 
another’s pleasure, but whether he will s\-mpathize with 
another’s pain,^ at least to a degree that will be an ade- 
quate counterpoise to egoistic impulse. The confidence 
of the eighteenth-eenturj' moralist on this point is al- 
ready beginning to seem to us singularly naive. Rous- 
seau, it will be remembered, not only attempts to rear 
the whole edifice of ethics on the basis of man’s iimate 
pitifulness, but asserts that this quality increases in 
almost direct ratio as one descends in the social scale 
and so gets closer to “nature.” When asked why, if the 
plain people were so pitiful, they crowded eagerly to s^ 
men broken on the wheel, he repHed that pity is such a 
delicious emotion that they did not wish to miss any 
opportunity of experiencing it! It was no doubt for this 
reason that Chateaubriand’s house porter, as he nar- 
rates, regretted Robespierre and the spectacles in the 
Place Louis XV, where women mounted the guillotine 
who had “necks as white as chicken’s flesh.” For a sim- 
ilar reason doubtless the Spanish populace frequents the 
bull-ring and the ancient Roman populace flocked to the 
gladiatorial arena. The truth is that the psychology of 
the plain people in matters of this kind is not ethical at 
aU, but Epicurean. It is pleasant, as the Epicurean 
Lucretius pointed out some time ago, to witness an- 
other’s dire peril of shipwreck from a safe position on 
the shore. In much the same way, the misery of the 
world, when properly dished up in the headlines, merely 

* “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep 


serves to give the ordinary citizen an agreeable fillip at 
his breakfast table. With the help of the sensational 
press, the men of to-day are indeed constantly lined up 
on the shore, witnessing an endless series of shipwrecks. 

The outstanding trait, in short, of a populace that is 
“ natural” in Rousseau’s sense is its irresponsible quest 
of thrills. The success of the whole attempt to base 
ethics directly on the emotions has been due in no small 
measure to the fact that it seemed to offer an equivalent, 
not only for Christian charity, but for grace, a grace that 
did not, like the old variety, involve humility and the 
conviction of sin; inasmuch as the man who transgresses 
does so, not through any survival of the “old Adam” in 
him, but because of society and its institutions. The 
man who has not fallen from the grace of nature into 
social sophistication is spontaneously virtuous. “Heav- 
en’s rich instincts in him grew,” says Lowell of a beauti- 
ful soul of this kind, “as effortless as woodland nooks 
send violets up and paint them blue.” The difference 
between the new and the old grace is here obvious: the 
old grace involved a working, even though the recipient 
of it maintained that not he but God did the working. 
The fact of the working was in any case indubitable, so 
much so that it often imposed a severe and even ascetic 
control upon the natural man. Goodness by the grace of 
nature, on the other hand, does not require on the part 
of the recipient anything more than a “ wise passiveness.” 

Another striking contrast between Christian love and 
grace and the parody of these doctrines by the Rous- 
seauist should be noted. The love and grace of the Chris- 
tian lead to sharp exclusions and discriminations; 


whereas the Rousseauist tends to blur all distinctions in 
pantheistic revery. Contrast the “vision” of a Dante, 
for example, with its clear-cut scale of moral values from 
the peak of heaven to the pit of hell with the “vision” 
of a Walt Whitman in which not merely men and 
women, good, bad, and indifferent, but “elder, mullein, 
and poke-weed ” are all viewed on the same level in vir- 
tue of what the pantheist calls love. Dante speaks of the 
“highest love” that built the walls of hell. We shudder 
at the mediaeval grimness. The opposite and more dan- 
gerous extreme is to lavish what Bossuet calls a “mur- 
derous pity” upon human nature and, imder cover of 
promoting love, to be ready to subvert justice. 

An unselective love joined to a “wise passiveness” 
and a return to “nature” might, indeed, be justified if, 
as their votaries maintain, they tend to draw men to a 
common centre; but it can be shown that this commun- 
ion is achieved, not in the real world, but in dreamland. 
Let us consider from this point of view the "simple life” 
that Rousseau and other primitivists have proposed as 
a remedy for the luxury and self-indulgence that have 
tended to increase with the breakdown of traditional 
standards. True simplicity of life must, it would seem, 
be attained by the limitation of desire; whereas the lux- 
urious life is one in which, as Montesquieu says, “the 
desires have become immense.” Now the “nature” of 
the primitivist can be shown to be only a nostalgia of the 
romantic imagination so that the attempt to return to 
it not only expands desire instead of limiting it, but 
makes it infinite and indeterminate. Rousseau speaks 
of that “devouring but barren fire with which from 


my childhood up I have felt myself vainly consumed.” 
Chateaubriand makes his Rend actually flee from 
European civilization to the American wilderness and 
take an Indian bride. Rend speaks for Chateaubriand 
himself when he writes to her: “There issue forth from 
this heart flames . . . which might devour creation with- 
out being satisfied.” Chateaubriand posed as the cham- 
pion of Christianity. Yet nothing is more certain than 
that Christian love makes for peace and communion, 
whereas nostalgic “love” of the type Chateaubriand has 
just described makes for restlessness and solitude. The 
ironical contrast between the ideal and the real appears 
even more clearly, perhaps, in Shelley than in Chateau- 
briand, inasmuch as Shelley did not, like Chateaubriand, 
pose as a traditionalist, but came out uncompromisingly 
for the new ethics. “The great secret of morals,” he 
says, “is love.” A characteristic note of his poetry, on 
the other hand, perhaps the most characteristic note is 
that of an acute spiritual isolation. 

Many of the partisans of the new liberty, a liberty 
based, not upon work (in the sense of inner control), but 
upon “love” in the sense of expansive emotion, were 
severely disillusioned by the French Revolution. 
Chateaubriand is himself one of the best types of the 
disillusioned Rousseauist. In his “Essay on Revolu- 
tions” he still looks upon romantic nostalgia as the true 
badge of the superior spirit, though he admits that the 
aspiration towards the “infinite” that it inspires is 
especially prevalent in epochs of moral decline. As a 
result of this nostalgia, at all events, man is never satis- 
fied with what he has. He shatters one political form 


after another from sheer satiety and ennui. The move- 
ment of mankind is not steadily forward in a straight 
line, as the apostles of perfectibility maintain, but cir- 
cular, like that of a squirrel in a cage. From the point of 
view of the lover of liberty society is hopeless. “ If it is 
political truth we are looldng for, it is easy to find. Here 
a despotic minister gags me and casts me into the depths 
of a dungeon where I remain for twenty years with- 
out knowing why: having escaped from the Bastille, I 
plunge indignantly into democracy; an anthropophagus 
awaits me there at the foot of the guillotine." As we 
should say nowadays, overthrow the Czar and the Bol- 
shevist has you by the throat. 

Is there, then, no such thing as liberty? “Yes, there 
is a delicious, a celestial liberty, that of nature.” Let a 
man betake himself to the “religious forest.” In very 
similar fashion, Coleridge, after discovering that the 
French Revolution, theoretically a crusade for universal 
brotherhood, was imperialistic in its essence, abandoned 
hope of finding liberty among men. If a man wishes to 
find true liberty, he says in substance, let him go out and 
listen to what the wild waves are saying. Liberty is not 
to be found in any human form. But if one “shoots his 
being through earth, sea, and air” and “possesses all 
things with intensest love,” liberty will be revealed to 

* See France: an Ode (1798), Part v. The beginnings of this 
part of the poem is pure Burke: 

The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain. 

Slaves by their own compulsion! etc. 

After striking this Burkian note, Coleridge proceeds to fall into 
sheer pantheistic bewilderment. 


It may be, however, that a man should look for true 
liberty neither in society nor in nature, but in himself — 
his ethical self; and the ethical self is experienced, not 
as an expansive emotion, but as an inner control. Lib- 
erty is associated, therefore, not primarily with “love,” 
but with work. “It is work,” as Buddha says, and not 
love, as the Western sentimentalist would have it, “that 
makes the world go round.” ‘ The man who works ethi- 
cally grows more at one with himseK and at the same 
time tends to enter into communion, not indeed with 
mankind at large, but with those who are submitting to 
a similar ethical discipline, and so are, in Confucian 
phrase, moving towards the “universal centre.” So that 
even from the point of view of the man who desires love, 
the great secret of morals is work. Love is the fulfilment 
of the law and not, as the sentimentalist would have us 
believe, a substitute for it. The psychological truth at 
the basis of the Christian doctrine of charity is that 
men cannot come together expansively and on the level 
of their ordinary selves. The attempt to do so results, 
as we have seen in the case of a Rousseau and a Shelley, 
in an extreme psychic isolation. 

Rousseau says that he founded “an indomitable spirit 
of hberty” on an “indolence that is beyond belief.” 
True liberty, it is hardly necessary to say, cannot be 
founded on indolence; it is something that must be won 
by high-handed struggle, a struggle that takes place 
primarily in oneself and not in the outer world. Possibly 
the ultimate distinction between the true and the false 
liberal, as I have suggested elsewhere, is that between 
* Sutta-Nipdta, v. 654. 


the spiritual athlete and the cosmic loafer. If true liberty 
is to survive, it is important that ethical idling should 
not usurp the credit due only to ethical effort. This 
usurpation takes place if we accept the programme of 
those who would substitute expansive emotion for the 
activity of the higher will. In the real world, as I have 
tried to show, the results of an expansion of this kind are 
not fraternal but imperialistic. 

The confusion between true and false liberals, between 
the ethically strenuous and the ethically indolent, has 
also been promoted by the doctrine of natural rights. A 
liberty that is asserted as an abstract right, something 
anterior to the fulfilment of any definite obligation, will 
always, so far as the inner life is concerned, be a lazy 
liberty. From this point of view, all other “natural” 
rights are in a way summed up in the title of a book 
written by a grandson of Karl Marx: “The Right to 
Idleness.” We have heard asserted in our own time 
the abstract right of whole populations to self-determi- 
nation as something anterior to their degree of moral 
development. To put forward a supposed right of this 
kind as a part of a programme for world peace is to sink 
to the ultimate depth of humanitarian self-deception. 

To be sure, the dogma of natural rights, though it 
still controls the popular imagination, has been dis- 
avowed by the political theorists themselves. Unfor- 
tunately, some of these theorists, while disavowing the 
dogma, have retained the underlying fallacy. For ex- 
ample, Mr. Harold J. Laski says that, though we no 
longer believe in the rights of man in any abstract and 
metaphysical sense, we still accept them as a convenient 


expression of the truth that what men want corresponds 
in a rough way to what they need.^ The first and very 
elementary step in any effective knowledge of human 
nature, a step that “liberals” of the type of Mr. Laski 
have failed to take, is the discovery of the lack of coin- 
cidence between man’s wants and his needs. What man 
needs, if we are to believe the Lord’s Prayer, is bread 
and wisdom. What man, at least Roman man, wanted 
about the time this prayer was uttered, was bread and 
the circus. The gap between man’s wants and his needs 
has not diminished greatly, if at all, since Roman times. 
Whatever we may think of Christian theology, the 
Christian insight remains true that man suffers from a 
divided will: he needs to follow the law of the spirit and 
wants to follow the law of the members, so that he is a 
thoroughly paradoxical creature, for the most part at 
war with his own happiness. 

Our endeavor at the present time, I have said, should 
be to deal with the law of the spirit positively and so be 
able to meet on their own ground those who have pro- 
fessed to be positive and are not. Let us take a glance 
from this point of view at the professional philosophers. 
Hume, for example, set up as a pure positivist: he was 
in favor of getting rid of all apriorism and planting him- 
self on what Bergson calls the “immediate data of con- 
sciousness.” Strictly speaking, indeed, mere rationalism 
died with Hume. Unfortunately, Kant galvanized the 
corpse. His “pure reason” does not, as the reason of 
Descartes and the other great system-builders of the 
seventeenth century was supposed to do, give reality, 
‘ Political Though! from Locke to BerUham, p, 270. 


but only empty categories. In opposition to this pure 
reason Kant sets up a practical reason that is led to 
make certain affirmations that cannot be shown to cor- 
respond with the “thing-in-itself.” By the divorce that 
is thus established between practice and reality, the way 
is opened for pragmatism which, instead of testing util- 
ity by truth, would test truth by utility; likewise for the 
clpsely allied theory of “useful fiction” and other philo- 
sophical vagaries of recent times. 

Let us return from the insubstantial transcendence of 
Kant to Hume and his claim to be purely experimental. 
This claim cannot be allowed for two reasons: first, as I 
have already remarked, he asserts something that can- 
not be experimentally established — namely, an element 
of spontaneous sympathy in the natural man, strong 
enough to cope unaided with egoistic impulse. Secondly, 
he fails to assert something that is, nevertheless, one of 
the “immediate data of consciousness” — namely, an 
ethical wifi that is felt as a power of control over the 
natural man and his expansive desires. Deny this 
ethical will and the inner life disappears; assert it and 
one may dispense with numerous other assertions, or at 
least give them minor emphasis. Many other things are 
true, no doubt, in addition to what one may aflSrm posi- 
tively; and "extrarbeliefs” are in any case inevitable. 
It is desirable, however, imder existing circumstances, 
to get at humanistic or religious truth with the minimum 
of metaphysical or theological complications. It is not 
even clear that, in order to preserve the integrity of the 
inner life, one needs to set up a world of entities, es- 
sences, or “ideas” above the flux. Much of the loftiest 


spirituality of the Occident has been associated with this 
Platonic idealism. On the other hand, the early Buddhists 
saw in a somewhat similar doctrine in India an obstacle 
rather than an aid to the achievement of the fruits of 

Kant, again, has from a strictly experimental point of 
view, gone too far in asserting “God, freedom, immor- 
tality”; and at the same time, from another point of 
view, he has not gone far enough, for the freedom of his 
“categorical imperative” is primarily a freedom to do, 
and not, like that of the ethical will, a freedom to refrain 
from doing. The first step surely is to plant oneself on 
the psychological fact of an opposition between a law of 
the spirit and a law of the members, a living and present 
fact that one neglects at one’s peril in favor of what 
may seem superficially more useful and agreeable. Some 
persons, it may be urged, are conscious of no such oppo- 
sition in themselves. Some persons are also color-blind, 
and spiritual vision is subject to even more infirmities 
than physical vision. 

The higher will in the dualism I have been sketching 
has, as I have tried to show, been very much bound up 
historically with the doctrine of grace and has tended to 
be obscured with the decline of this doctrine. It would be 
possible to go through the chief modem philosophers one 
after the other from Descartes down and show that they 
are least satisfactory in their treatment of the will.* Any 
one who wishes to recover the true dualism must begin 
by exalting the ethical will to the first place. Any at- 
tempt to give the primacy to “reason” in any sense of 
* See Appendix A. 


the word will result in the loss of humility and lead to a 
revival, in some form, of the Stoical error. One must in 
this matter not only side wuth the Christian against the 
Stoic, but in general with the Asiatic against the Euro- 
pean intellectual. It does not follow because one gives 
the first place to will that one is to identify it with the 
absolute or, hke Schopenhauer, with the “ thing-in-itself 
for this is to fall from positive psychological observation 
into metaphysics; nor, because one insists that intellect 
is, as compared with w’ill, secondary, need one conclude 
with Wordsworth and other romantic obscurantists that 
it is therefore “false.” 

To give the first place to the higher will is only another 
way of declaring that life is an act of faith. One may 
discover on positive grounds a deep meaning in the old 
Christian tenet that we do not know in order that we 
may believe, but we believe in order that we may know. 
What follows almost inevitably when the intellect ceases 
to be the servant of the higher will and sets up as an in- 
dependent power is a lapse into the metaphysical illu- 
sion — the illusion of having confined the ocean in a cup. 
The most f amili ar form of this illusion in recent times is 
that of the pure mechanist or determinist. If the de- 
terminist is told in the words of the poet that “our wills 
are ours, we know not how; our wills are ours to make 
them thine,” he answers in substance that our wills are 
not ours and that he knows how. But his knowledge on 
this point is only a conceit of knowledge. He is trying 
with finite faculties to grasp factors that are at bottom 
infinite, or, what amounts to the same thing, trying to 
subject the higher element in human nature to the lower. 


The proper reply to the determinist is not to appeal to 
some dogma or other, but to experience. The decisive 
word here has been uttered by Dr. Johnson, who has 
claims to be regarded as the most sensible person of 
recent times: “All theory,” he says, “is against the 
freedom of the will, all experience for it.” Plant oneself 
firmly on this fact of experience and the way is open 
at one essential point for a return to common sense. 
We escape at once from the vast web of intellectual and 
emotional sophistry in which the naturalistic moralists 
have sought to enmesh us. The answer to the enigma 
of life, so far as there is any, is not for the man who 
sets up some metaphysical theory, but for the man who, 
in some sense or other of the word, acts. Now to act 
according to the ethical will is, so far as the natural 
man is concerned, to pull back, limit, and select. This 
supremely human act of selection the rationalistic 
naturalist would turn over to physical nature. The 
emotional naturalist, refusing to be mechanized along 
either Cartesian or Darwinian lines, emphasizes his vital 
uniqueness, his spontaneous and temperamental “me,” 
and its right to get itself uttered. The natural will that 
is thus released from control is conceived by Nietzsche 
as a will to power, and this would seem to have some 
relation to the facts. On the other hand, the notion of a 
Rousseau or a Whitman, that “liberty” of this type is 
compatible with fraternity, is very far from being 

A French writer, M. L4on Daudet, has won a certain 
notoriety by applying to the nineteenth century the 
epithet “stupid.” If the century deserves the epithet 


at all, it is surely because of the aspect of it that I 
have just been discussing. The determinist tends to 
mechanize man and deny him genuine moral choice. The 
partisans of romantic spontaneity from Rousseau to 
Bergson have hoped to escape from this naturalistic 
fatalism by setting up some cosmic urge or ilan vital 
as a substitute for moral effort. Yet a multitude of men 
during the past century, who acquiesced in either one or 
the other of these two main forms of ethical passiveness, 
held at the same time a firm faith in “progress.” They 
were drifting, to be sure, but drifting towards a “far-off 
divine event,” usually conceived as a paradise of peace 
and brotherhood; But if it is a question of drifting, 
there is only one direction in which one can drift and 
that is towards barbarism. Civilization is something 
that must be deliberately willed ; it is not something that 
gushes up spontaneously from the depths of the uncon- 
scious. Furthermore, it is something that must be willed 
first of all by the individual in his own heart. Men who 
have thus willed civilization have never been any too 
numerous; so that civilization always has been and, in 
the very nature of the case, always must remain some- 
thing precarious. In the words of Rivarol, barbarism is 
always as close to the most refined civilization as rust 
is to the most highly polished steel. 

As a result of the denial or dissimulation of the forms 
of inner action on which civilization finally depends, the 
naturalistic era in which we are living has been espe- 
cially rich in dubious moralists, from the “beautiful 
souls” of the eighteenth century to the Freudians and 
behaviorists of our own day. If the behaviorist deserves 


censure for seeing only matter and material causes, the 
tendency that appears in Berkeleyan idealists and, in 
much cruder form, in the exponents of various brands of 
“new thought,” to deny matter in favor of what they 
conceive to be spirit is also open to grave objection. As 
a result of this denial, they tend to lose their sense of the 
reality of the “civil war in the cave,” and so to fall into 
materialism from the other side. The Freudian corrup- 
tion of ethics illustrates interestingly another main 
naturalistic fallacy. Because outer and mechanical 
repression of desire may work injury, it is insinuated 
that the repression of desire is bad per se. If one says 
that what is needed is not outer control but inner con- 
trol, even philosophers of some standing will reply that 
inner control or the ethical will is only the brake on per- 
sonality; and that a vehicle cannot, after all, be pro- 
pelled by its brake. The metaphor, however, is utterly 
misleading; the ethical will is nothing external and 
mechanical like a brake. The man who imposes this will 
upon the outgoing desires is moving away from what is 
peripheral in himself to what is central, to what is indeed 
at the very centre. The humanist would not go beyond 
disciplining the " lusts ” of the natural man to the law of 
measure. However, if one goes still further and “ dies” 
entirely to the natural self and its impulses, what fol- 
lows, if we are to believe the great religious teachers, is 
not mere emptiness, but the peace that passeth under- 

The man who does not impose either religious or 
humanistic control upon his ordinary self does not 
usually avow that he is a mere materialist. The ethical 


problem would be comparatively simple if he did. The 
egocentric individuabst is, however, prone to give fine 
names to his own unrestraint. As Plato says, he will 
call insolence breeding, anarchy liberty, and waste mag- 
nificence; and may even go to the point of deifying his 
own impulses. There are times when one must reply in 
the affirmative to the question of Virgil “whether each 
man’s god is but his own fell desire.’’ There is a sense in 
which one must agree with the scoffer that an honest 
God is the noblest work of man. We recognize readily 
that the God whom the Kaiser and many Germans 
worshipped during the War was only a projection into 
the religious realm of their own will to power. We are 
loath, however, to admit any equivalent of this imperial- 
istic error in the champions of democracy. And yet it is 
not difficult to point out such an equivalent, for ex- 
ample, in the humanitarian illusionist, Victor Hugo. 
Monckton Milnes relates that when he called on Hugo 
at Paris, “he was shown into a large room, with women 
and men seated in chairs against the walls, and Hugo at 
one end throned. No one spoke. At last Hugo raised his 
voice solemnly and said: ‘Quant ^ moi, je crois en 
Dieu.’ Silence followed. Then a woman responded as if 
in deep meditation: ‘Chose sublime! un Dieu qui croit 
en Dieu.’ ” * The sublimity diminishes somewhat when 
one observes to what an extent the God in whom Hugo 
believes reflects his ordinary self so that he is thus en- 
abled to worship this self on a sort of cosmic scale. A 
man also frequently calls what is at bottom only an hy- 

* I take the anecdote from The Education of Henry Adams, 

p. 143. 


postasis of his ordinary self in its dominant desire either 
progress or justice. Thus Mr. Samuel Gompers com- 
plained that the New York Assembly of 1919 did not 
pass a single “ progressive or forward-looking act.” We 
all know what this means. The far-off divine event 
towards which the whole creation moves is for Mr. 
Gompers the domination of the laboring class, with the 
understanding that the laboring class itself is to be 
dominated by Mr. Gompers or his kind. As a result of 
the cowardice of our politicians, this more or less divine 
event has at times not seemed so far off as one might 
wish. The attempt to bestow the word justice on per- 
sonal or class interests is too familiar to need illustration. 

We are dealing here with the most ancient and still 
the most successful form of camouflage. During the 
War, the French did not fail to quote a passage of Tacitus 
to the general effect that the Germans give fine names 
to what is at bottom only their own lawlessness and love 
of plunder. But there is in this trait nothing specifically 
German. The barbaric Briton, the same Tacitus nar- 
rates, complained of his Roman conquerors that “they 
make a desolation and call it peace.” This human pro- 
clivity, though universal, is especially marked in periods 
of individualistic emancipation. It is especially at such 
a period that one needs to remind oneself with Hobbes 
that words are the counters of wise men and the coin of 
fools, and that one is not to suppose, on hearing a fine 
phrase, that it coincides necessarily with a fime thing. 
We are put here on the track of the true oflice of the in- 
tellect in such a period. To set out like Rousseau to be 
an individualist and at the same time to disparage in- 


tellect is to enter upon the pathway of madness. In 
direct ratio, indeed, to the completeness of one’s break 
with the past must be the keenness of one’s discrimina- 
tion. Otherwise one runs the risk of setting up as an 
“ideal” and decking out with fair phrases some unsub- 
stantial dream — the mere ballooning out of the im- 
agination into the void. 

The imagination must, to be sure, be supreme, but it 
should be an imagination disciplined to the facts. If the 
imagination is not present, the facts will not be unified; 
they will remain inert and isolated. But the intellect 
must also be present — and by intellect I mean the 
power in man that analyzes and discriminates and traces 
causes and effects; for this power alone can determine 
whether the unity the imagination has established 
among the facts is real or whether it exists rather only 
in some “realm of chimeras.” The genuine man of sci- 
ence is not, on the one hand, a metaphysical theorist nor, 
on the other, a mere fact-grubber. His eminence is 
measured by the gift he possesses for true vision in 
connection with some field of facts on which he has long 
been fixing his attention. What may have come to him 
originally in a flash of intuition he is careful to check up 
and test experimentally by every means in his power; 
and at this stage he is not synthetic but analytic. His 
success is due to the correct relation he has established 
between the part of himself that perceives, the part that 
conceives, and the part that discriminates. 

Now the true humanist deals with his facts in a some- 
what similar fashion : only the facts on which he is fixing 
his attention are of an entirely different order. His 


imagination is disciplined to law, but this law is not the 
“law for thing.” He is tracing cause and effect, but 
these causal sequences are not the ones that occur in 
physical nature. Because there is in us, in Lowell’s 
phrase, something that refuses to be “Benthamized,” 
the romantic idealist looks with suspicion on a cause- 
and-effect pliilosophy and the keen analysis by which it 
can be established; but any other than a cause-and- 
effect philosophy is hkely to fall into sheer unreality; 
inasmuch as reality means practically the reality of law, 
and law in turn means that as a matter of positive ob- 
servation there is a constant association between cer- 
tain phenomena either in time or space — an associa- 
tion that exists quite apart from the desires or opinions 
of the individual. If there is not a human law that is 
thus objective, so that the person who violates it exposes 
himself to certain consequences in much the same way 
that the person who puts his finger into the fire exposes 
himself to certain consequences, then the human law is 
not worth going in search of. A sceptic of the type of 
Hume would affirm, indeed, that the very idea of cause 
and effect is not objective but subjective, that it arises 
from man’s “propensity to feign.” But even if we go to 
the extreme of scepticism and look on life merely as a 
“dream whose shapes return,” it remains true that these 
returning shapes bear a certain constant relationship to 
one another; so that they are susceptible of study from 
the point of view of the only problem that finally mat- 
ters — the problem of happiness or unhappiness. Of 
cause and effect in any abstract and metaphysical sense, 
the critical humanist is willing to avow his ignorance; 


just as the true man of science admits that he cannot 
grasp the ultimate essence behind the phenomenal 
relationships he is busy in tracing. 

The foregoing analysis, if it is correct, suggests that 
the type of material progress on which the Occident has 
been expending its main effort for some time past, so far 
from promoting moral progress, is likely rather to make 
against it. This type of progress has resulted from 
imaginative concentration on facts of an entirely differ- 
ent order from those of the moral law. The keen ana^ 
lytical discrimination in the service of actual percep- 
tion that gives reality — such reality as man has access 
to — has become the more and more exclusive mo- 
nopoly of the man of science or of the utilitarian who 
has been organizing scientific discovery into a vast ma- 
chinery of material efficiency. In the mean while, in the 
distinctively human realm, the imagination has been 
left more or less free to roam at large. It has set up a 
unity, as I remarked at the outset, that has not been 
sufficiently tested from the point of view of its reality. 
The unity that the humanitarian hopes to achieve 
among men hinges almost entirely, I have tried to show, 
on the idea of “service.” Men are to be brought to- 
gether, one finds on analyzing this idea of service, by 
means that are either rationalistic and meehanical or 
else emotional. In either case, the humanitarian as- 
sumes that men can meet expansively and on the level 
of their ordinary selves. But if this notion of union 
should prove to be illusory, if men can really come to- 
gether only in humble obeisance to something set above 
their ordinary selves, it follows that the great temple to 


humanity that has been in process of erection for several 
generations past is the modem equivalent of the Tower 
of Babel; and so we should not be surprised if it is being 
stricken with a confusion of tongues. 

With the progressive weakening of traditional stand- 
ardsj the inabihty of the humanitarian to supply any 
adequate substitute is becoming apparent. The whole 
of the Occident seems to be at an impasse. The mere 
rationalist and the mere emotionalist are about equally 
bankrupt. It may be that our only hope is a return to 
the tmths of the inner life. If we ourselves are unable to 
see the need of such a return, it is perhaps because we 
have reached the stage of the decadent Romans who, 
according to Livy, were unable to endure the evils from 
which they were suffering and also the remedies for those 

The loss of the troths of the inner life in their tradi- 
tional form has involved, I have tried to show, a pro- 
found alteration in the idea of hberty. Liberty has come 
more and more to be conceived expansively, not as 
a process of concentration, a submission or adjust- 
ment to a higher will. My whole argument thus far has 
been that we should seek to recover in some critical 
form the centripetal element in hberty that the modern- 
ist has allowed to drop out and so become thorough- 
going and complete modems. It is a matter of no small 
importance in any case to be defective in one’s definition 
of hberty; for any defect here will be reflected in one’s 
definitions of peace and justice; and the outlook for a 
society which has defective notions of peace and justice 
cannot be regarded as very promising. 


A good deal of the confusion about liberty, as I have 
endeavored to show, has been promoted by the panthe- 
istic dreamers who have sought a substitute for the grace 
of God in the grace of natme, and so have obscured the 
distinction between the man for whom liberty is an 
ethical working and the man who, like Rousseau, seeks 
to foimd an indomitable spirit of liberty on an indolence 
that is beyond belief. The pure traditionalist, the 
Catholic, for example, not only avoids a particular con- 
fusion of this kind, but is in general relieved of the task 
of defining liberty that is imposed upon the individual- 
iot. The Church will supply him with his definition: 
liberty, he will be told, is submission to the will of God; 
and the Church will not only supply him with the gen- 
eral principle, but also give him guidance in the in- 
numerable “cases” that arise in the application of it. 
Inasmuch as the Pope is infaUible (since 1870), at least 
in religion and morals, submission to the will of God 
tends to coincide practically, though not of course in 
theory, with submission to the Pope. 

Though the sound individualist must also have 
standards, it is plain that he cannot get at them in this 
way — not, namely, by leaning on outer authority, but 
rather by the cooperation of intellect and imagination I 
have tried to describe. The standards he has thus se- 
cured he will proceed to press into the service of the 
ethical will. A programme of this kind, in which im- 
agination, intellect, and will cooperate, instead of flying 
asunder, as they tend to do in Pascal, for example, is, it 
must be confessed, easier to outline than to accomplish. 
Yet it is hard to see that our modem experiment can be 


carried thi-ough safely on any other terms. If this ex- 
periment shows signs of breaking down, the explanation 
is surely that it has failed thus far to achieve adequate 
equivalents for the traditional controls. Instead of 
setting up genuine standards and then selecting with 
reference to them, the man who professes to be modern 
has turned selection over to “nature” and sought to 
substitute for the working of the ethical will a diffuse, 
unselective sympathy. This tendency to put on sym- 
pathy a burden that it cannot bear and at the same time 
to sacrifice a truly human hierarchy and scale of values 
to the principle of equality has been especially marked 
in the democratic movement, nowhere more so perhaps 
than in our American democracy. It remains, therefore, 
to discuss democracy in its relation to standards. I shall 
attempt in the course of this discussion to elucidate still 
further, with the aid of a Socratic dialectic, my distinc- 
tion between the true and the false liberal. 



Judged by any quantitative test, the American achieve- 
ment is impressive. We have ninety per cent of the 
motors of the world and control seventy-five per cent of 
its oil; we produce sixty per cent of the world’s steel, 
seventy per cent of its copper, and eighty per cent of its 
telephones and typewriters. This and similar statistical 
proof of our material preeminence, which would have 
made a Greek apprehensive of Nemesis, seems to inspire 
in many Americans an almost lyrical complacency. 
They are not only quantitative in their estimates of our 
present accomplishment, but even more so if possible 
in what they anticipate for the future. Now that we 
have fifteen million automobiles they feel, with Mr. 
Henry Ford, that we can have no higher ambition than 
to expand this number to thirty million. Our present 
output of fifty million tons of steel a year is, according 
to Mr. Schwab, a mere trifle compared with our probable 
output of twenty years hence.’ In short, an age that is 
already immersed in things to an imexampled degree is 
merely to prepare the way for an age still more material 
in its preoccupations and still more subservient to ma- 
chinery. This, we are told, is progress. To a person with 
a proportionate view of life it might seem rather to be 
full-blown commercial insolence. 

The reasons for the quantitative view of life that pre- 


vails in America are far from being purely political. 
This view has resulted in a large measure from the com- 
ing together of scientific discovery with the opening up 
of a new continent. It has been possible with the aid of 
science to accomplish in a hundred years what even the 
optimistic Thomas Jefferson thought might take a 
thousand. The explanation, it has been said, of much 
that is obscure to us in the Chinese may be summed up 
in the words “lack of elbow-room.” We in this country, 
on the other hand, have received a peculiar psychic twist 
from the fact that we have had endless elbow-room. A 
chief danger both to ourselves and others is that we shall 
continue to have a frontier psychology long after we 
have ceased to have a frontier. For a frontier psychol- 
ogy is expansive, and expansiveness, I have tried to 
show, is, at least in its political manifestations, always 

If quantitatively the American achievement is im- 
pressive, qualitatively it is somewhat less satisfying. 
What must one think of a country, asks one of our for- 
eign critics, whose most popular orator is W. J. Bryan, 
whose favorite actor is Charlie Chaplin, whose most 
widely read novelist is Harold Bell Wright, whose best- 
known evangelist is Billy Sunday, and whose representa- 
tive journalist is William Randolph Hearst? What one 
must evidently think of such a country, even after aUow- 
ing liberally for overstatement, is that it lacks standards. 
Furthermore, America suffers not only from a lack of 
standards, but also not infrequently from a confusion or 
an inversion of standards. As an example of the inver- 
sion of standards we may take the bricklayer who, being 


able to lay two thousand bricks a day, is reduced by 
union rules to laying five hundred. There is confusion 
of standards, again, when we are so impressed by 
Mr. Henry Ford’s abilities as organizer and master 
mechanic that we listen seriously to his views on money; 
or when, simply because Mr. Edison has shown inven- 
tive genius along certain lines, we receive him as an 
authority on education. One is reminded of the story of 
the French butcher who, having need of legal aid, finally, 
after looking over a number of lawyers, selected the 
fattest one. 

u The problem of standards, though not identical with 
the problem of democracy, touches it at many points and 
is not therefore the problem of any one country. Euro- 
peans, indeed, like to look upon the crudity and chaotic 
impressionism of people who are no longer guided by 
standards as something specifically American. "Amer- 
ica,” says the "Saturday Review,” "is the country of 
imbalanced minds, of provincial policies and of hysteri- 
cal Utopias." The deference for standards has, how- 
ever, been diminished by a certain tj'pe of democracy in 
many other countries besides America. The resulting 
vulgarity and triviality are more or less visible in all of 
these covmtries; — for example, if we are to believe 
Lord Bryce, in New Zealand. If we in America are per- 
haps preeminent in lack of distinction, it is because of 
the very completeness of our emancipation from the 
past. Goethe's warning as to the retarding effect of the 
conunonplace is well known (Was uns alle bandigi, das 
Gemeine). His explanation of what makes for the com- 
monplace is less familiar; “Enjoyment,” he says, “makes 


common.” (Geniessen macht gemein.) Since every man 
desires happiness, it is evidently no small matter whether 
he conceives of happiness in terms of work or of enjoy- 
ment. If he work in the full ethical sense that I have at- 
tempted to define, he is pulling back and disciplining his 
temperamental self with reference to some standard. In 
short, his temperamental self is, in an almost literal 
sense, undergoing conversion. The whole of life may, 
indeed, be summed up in the words diversion and con- 
version. Along which of these two main paths are most 
of us seeking the happiness to the pursuit of which 
we are dedicated by our Declaration of Independence? 
The author of this phrase, Thomas Jefferson, remarks of 
himself: “I am an Epicurean.” ^ It cannot be gainsaid 
that an increasing number of our young people are, in 
this respect at least, good Jeffersonians. The phrase that 
reflects most clearly their pliilosophy of life is perhaps 
“good time.” One might suppose that many of them see 
this phrase written in great blazing letters on the very 
face of the firmament. As “Pimch” remarked, the 
United States is not a country, but a picnic. When the 
element of conversion with reference to a standard is 
eliminated from life, what remains is the irresponsible 
quest of thrills.'^The utilitarian and industrial side of the 
modem movement comes into play at this point. Com- 
merciahsm is laying its great greasy paw upon every- 
thing (including the irresponsible quest of thrills); so 
that, whatever democracy may be theoretically, one is 
sometimes tempted to define it practically as standard- 
ized and commercialized melodrama. This definition 
‘ Works (Ford ed.), x, p. 143. 


will be found to fit many aspects of our national life 
besides the moving-picture industry. The tendency to 
steep and saturate ourselves in the impression of the 
moment without reference to any permanent pattern of 
human experience is even more marked, perhaps, in our 
newspapers and magazines. It was said of the inhab- 
itants of a certain ancient Greek city that, though they 
were not fools, they did just the things that fools would 
do. It is hard to take a glance at one of our news-stands 
without reflecting that, though we may not be fools, we 
are reading just the things that fools would read. Our 
daily press in particular is given over to the most child- 
ish sensationalism. “The Americans are an excellent 
people,” Matthew Arnold wrote from Boston in 1883, 
“but their press seems to me an awful symptom.” This 
symptom was not so awful then as now; for that was 
before the day of the scarehead and the comic supple- 
ment. The American reading his Sunday paper in a 
state of lazy collapse is perhaps the most perfect symbol 
of the triumph of quantity over quality that the world 
has yet seen. Whole forests are being ground into pulp 
daily to minister to our triviality. 

One is inclined, indeed, to ask, in certain moods, 
whether the net result of the movement that has been 
sweeping the Occident for several generations may not 
be a huge mass of standardized mediocrity; and whether 
in this country in particular we are not in danger of pro- 
ducing in the name of democracy one of the most trifling 
brands of the human species that the world has yet seen. 
To be sure, it may be urged that, though we may suffer 
loss of distinction as a result of the democratic drift, by 


way of compensation a great many average people will, 
in the Jeffersonian sense at least, be made “happy.” If 
we are to judge by histoiy, however, what supervenes 
upon the decline of standards and the disappearance of 
leaders who embody them is not some equalitarian 
paradise, but inferior types of leadership. We have al- 
ready been reminded by certain developments in this 
country of Byron’s definition of democracy as an “aris- 
tocracy of blackguards.” At the very moment when we 
were most vociferous about making the world safe for 
democracy the citizens of New York City refused to 
reelect an honest man as their mayor and put in his 
place a tool of Tammany, an action followed in due 
course by a “crime wave”; whereupon they returned 
the tool of Tammany by an increased majority. The 
industrial revolution has tended to produce every- 
where great urban masses that seem to be increasingly 
careless of ethical standards. In the case of our Ameri- 
can cities, the problem of securing some degree of moral 
cohesion is further complicated by the presence of 
numerous ahens of widely divergent racial stocks and 
cultural backgrounds.* In addition our population is 
not only about half urban, but we cannot be said, like 
most other countries, to have any peasantry or yeo- 
manry. Those Americans who actually dwell in the 
country are more and more urban in their psychology. 
The whole situation is so unusual as to suggest doubts 
even from a purely biological point of view. “As I 

* For example, 41 per cent of the residents of New York City 
are actually foreign-bom; if we add those whose father or mother 
or both were bom abroad, the more or less foreign element in its 
population amounts to 80 per cent. 


watch the American nation speeding gaily, with invin- 
cible optimism down the road to destruction,” saya 
Professor William McDougall, an observer of the bio- 
logical type, “I seem to be contemplating the greatest 
tragedy in the histoiy of mankind.” 

V, We are assured, indeed, that the highly heterogeneous 
elements that enter into our population wiU, like various 
instruments in an orchestra, merely result in a richer 
harmony; they will, one may reply, provided that, like 
an orchestra, they be properly led. Otherwise the out- 
come may be an unexampled cacophony. This question 
of leadership is not primarily biological, but moral. 
Leaders may vary in quality from the man who is so 
loyal to sound standards that he inspires right conduct 
in others by the sheer rightness of his example, to the 
man who stands for nothing higher than the law of cun- 
ning and the law of force, and so is, in the sense I have 
sought to define, imperialistic. If democracy means 
simply the attempt to eliminate the qualitative and 
selective principle in favor of some general will, based in 
turn on a theory of natural rights, it may prove to be 
only a form of the vertigo of the abyss. As I have tried 
to show in dealing with the influence of Rousseau on the 
French Revolution, it will result practically, not in 
equality, but in a sort of inverted aristocracy. One’s 
choice may be, not between a democracy that is prop- 
erly led and a democracy that hopes to find the equiva- 
lent of standards and leadership in the appeal to a 
numerical majority, that indulges in other words in 
a sort of quantitative impressionism, but between a 
democracy that is properly led and a decadent imperial- 


ism. One should, therefore, in the interests of democ- 
racy itself seek to substitute the doctrine of the right 
man for the doctrine of the rights of man. 

^ The opposition between traditional standards and an 
equahtarian democracy based on the supposed rights of 
man has played an important part in our own political 
history, and has meant practically the opposition be- 
tween two types of leadership. The “quality” in the 
older sense of the word suffered its first decisive defeat 
in 1829 when Washington was invaded by the hungry 
hordes of Andrew Jackson. The imperialism latent in 
this type of democracy appears in the Jacksonian 
maxim: “To the victors belong the spoils.” In his 
theory of democracy Jackson had, of course, much in 
common with Thomas Jefferson. If we go back, indeed, 
to the beginnings of our institutions, we find that 
America stood from the start for two different views of 
government that have their origin in different views of 
liberty and ultimately of human nature. The view that 
is set forth in the Declaration of Independence assumes 
that man has certain abstract rights; it has therefore 
important points of contact with the French revolu- 
tionary “idealism.” The view that inspired our Con- 
stitution, on the other hand, has much in common with 
that of Burke. If the first of these political philosophies 
is properly associated with Jefferson, the second has its 
most distinguished representative in Washington. The 
Jeffersonian liberal has faith in the goodness of the 
natural man, and so tends to overlook the need of a 
veto power either in the individual or in the State. The 
liberals of whom I have taken Washington to be the 


type are less expansive in their attitude towards the 
natural man. Just as man has a higher self that acts 
restrictively on his ordinary self, so, they hold, the State 
should have a higher or permanent self, appropriately 
embodied in institutions, that should set bounds to its 
ordinary self as expressed by the popular will at any par- 
ticular moment. The contrast that I am establishing is, 
of course, that between a constitutional and a direct 
democracy. There is an opposition of first principles 
between those who maintain that the popular will should 
prevail, but only after it has been purified of what is 
merely Impulsive and ephemeral, and those who main- 
tain that this will should prevail immediately and un- 
restrictedly. The American experiment in democracy 
has, therefore, from the outset been ambiguous, and 
will remain so until the irrepressible conflict between 
a Washingtonian and a Jeffersonian liberty has been 
fought to a conclusion. The liberal of the type of Wash- 
ington has always been very much concerned with what 
one may term the unionist aspect of liberty. This cen- 
tral preoccupation is summed up in the phrase of 
■'.Vebster: Liberty and union, one and inseparable. The 
liberty of the Jeffersonian, on the other hand, makes 
against ethical union like every liberty that rests on the 
assertion of abstract rights. Jefferson himself proclaimed 
not only human rights, but also state rights.* Later the 
doctrine of state rights was developed with logical 
rigor by Calhoun, whereas the doctrine of human rights 
was carried through no less uncompromisingly by the 

* He drafted, for example, the so-called Kentucky Resolutiona 
(November, 1799). 


abolitionists. The result was two opposing camps of 
extremists and fire-eaters; so that the whole question of 
imion, instead of being settled on ethical lines, had to be 
submitted to the arbitrament of force. 

The man who has grasped the full import of the con- 
flict between the liberty of the unionist and that of the 
Jeffersonian has been put in possession of the key that 
imlocks American history. The conflict between the 
two conceptions is not, indeed, always clear-cut in par- 
ticular individuals. There is much in Jefferson himself 
that contradicts what I have been saying about JeSer- 
son. A chief business of criticism, however, is to dis- 
tinguish, in spite of peripheral overlappings, between 
things that are at the centre different. For example, to 
link together in a common admiration Jefferson and 
John Marshall, our most eminent unionist after Wash- 
ington himself, is proof of lack of critical discrimination 
rather than of piety towards the fathers. Jefferson and 
Marshall knew perfectly that they stood for incom- 
patible things,^ and it is important that we should know 
it also. “Marshall,” says John Quincy Adams in his 
Diary, “ has cemented the Union which the crafty and 
quixotic democracy of Jefferson had a perpetual tend- 
ency to dissolve.” 

By his preoccupation with the question of the union, 
Lincoln became the true successor of Washington and 
Marshall. In making of Lincoln the great emancipator 
instead of the great unionist, in spite of his own most 

* A similar opposition existed, of course, between Jefferson and 
Alexander Hamilton. The Life of Hamillon, by F. S. Oliver, is to 
be commended for the clearness of the insight it displays into 
the nature of this opposition. 


specific declarations on this point, we are simply creat- 
ing a Lincoln mjrth, as we have already created a Wash- 
ington myth.* We are sometimes told that the good 
democrat needs merely to be like Lincoln. But to be 
like Lincoln one must know what Lincoln was like. 
This is not only a task for the critic, but, in view of 
the Lincoln myth, a more difficult task than is com- 
monly supposed. It is especially easy to sentimentalize 
Lincoln because he had a strongly marked vein of sen- 
timentalism. Nevertheless, in spite of the peripheral 
overlappings between the democracy of Lincoln and 
that of Jefferson^ or even between that of Lincoln and 
Walt Whitman, one should insist on the central differ- 
ence. One has only to read, for example, the Second 
Inaugural along with the “Song of Myself” if one wishes 
to become aware of the gap that separates religious 
humility from romantic egotism. We should be careful 
again, in spite of peripheral overlappings, not to con- 
found the democracy of Lincoln with that of Roosevelt. 
What we feel at the very centre in Roosevelt is the 
dynamic rush of an imperialistic personality. What we 
feel at the very centre in Lincoln, on the other hand, is 
an element of judicial control; and in close relation to 
this control a profound conception of the r61e of the 
courts in maintaining free institutions. The man who 
has studied the real Lincoln does not find it easy to im- 
agine him advocating the recall of judicial decisions. 
,_^The Jeffersonian hberal is, as a rule, much more osten- 

* A specially influential book in the creation of this myth was 
the Life of Washington (1800), by “Parson” Weems. 

* Lincoln actually defended himself against the charge of hav- 
ing spoken disparagingly of Jefferson. See Works (Nicolay and 
Hay ed.), vi, p. 60. 


tatiously fraternal than the liberal in the other tradition. 
Yet he is usually inferior in human warmth and geniality 
to the unionist. Washington and Marshall and Lincoln 
at their best combined practical sagacity with a central 
benignity and imselfishness. Jefferson, on the other 
hand, though perhaps our most accomplished politician, 
did not show himself especially sagacious in dealing with 
specific emergencies. Furthermore, it is hard to read his 
“Anas” and reflect on the circumstances of its composi- 
tion without concluding that what was central in his 
personality was not benignity and unselfishness but 

Statesmen who deser^-e the praise I have bestowed on 
our unionist leaders are, as every student of history 
knows, e.^tremely rare. The type of constitutional lib- 
erty that we owe to these men before all others is one 
of the greatest blessbgs that has ever been vouchsafed to 
any people. And yet we are in danger of losing it. The 
Eighteenth Amendment is striking proof of our loss of 
grasp, not only on the principles that rmderlie our own 
Constitution, but that must underlie any constitution, 
as such, in opposition to mere legislative enactment. 

Our present drift away from constitutional freedom 
can be understood only with reference to the progressive 
crumbling of traditional standards and the rise of a 
naturalistic philosophy that, in its treatment of specifi- 
cally human problems, has been either sentimental or 
utilitarian. The significant changes in our own national 
temper in particular are finally due to the fact that 
Protestant Christianity, especially in the Puritanic 
form, has been giving way to humanitaiianism. The 


point is worth making because the persons who have 
favored prohibition and other similar “reforms” have 
been attacked as Puritans. Genuine Puritanism was, 
however, a religion of the inner life. Our unionist leaders, 
Washington, Marshall, and Lincoln, though not nar- 
rowly orthodox, were still religious in the traditional 
sense. The struggle between good and evil, as they saw 
it, was still primarily not in society, but in the individual. 
Their conscious dependence on a higher or divine will 
could not fail to be reflected in their notion of liberty. 
Jefferson, on the contrary, associated his liberty, not 
with God, but with “nature.” He admired, as is well 
known, the liberty of the American Indian. ' He was 
for dimi nishing to the utmost the r61e of government, 
but not for increasing the inner control that must, ac- 
cording to Burke, be in strict ratio to the relaxation of 
outer control. When evil actually appears, the Jeffer- 
sonian cannot appeal to the principle of inner control; 
he is not willing again to admit that the sole alternative 
to this type of control is force; and so he is led into what 
seems at first sight a paradoxical denial of his own prin- 
ciples: he has recourse to legislation. It should be clear 
at all events that oin present attempt to substitute 
social control for self-control is Jeffersonian rather than 
Puritanical. So far as we are true children of the Puri- 
tans, we may accept the contrsist established by Pro- 
fessor Stuart P. Sherman * between our own point of 
view and that of the German: “The ideal of the German 

1 See Works (Ford ed.), ni, p. 195. 

* American and Allied Ideals (War Information Series, No. 
12), p. 9. 


is external control and 'inner freedom’; the Government 
looks after his conduct and he looks after his liberty. 
The ideal of the American is external freedom and inner 
control; the individual looks after his conduct and the 
Government looks after his hberty. Thus Verhoten in 
Germany is pronounced by the Government and en- 
forced by the police. In America Verhoten is pronounced 
by public opinion and enforced by the individual con- 
science. In this light it should appear that Puritanism, 
our national principle of concentration, is the indispen- 
sable check on democracy, our national principle of ex- 
pansion. I use the word Puritanism in the sense given to 
it by German and German-American critics: the inner 
check upon the expansion of natural impulse.” 

^ Professor Sherman’s contrast has been true in the past 
and stOl has some truth — at least enough for the pur- 
poses of war-time propaganda. But what about our 
main drift at present? It is plainly away from the point 
of view that Professor Sherman ascribes to the Puritan ^ 
and towards the point of view that he ascribes to the 
German. “The inner check upon the expansion of 
natural impulse” is precisely the missing element in the 
Jefiersonian philosophy. The Jeffersonian has therefore 
been led to deal with the problem of evil, not vitally and 
in terms of the inner life, but mechanically. Like the 

• Strange things have been happening to the Puritan conscience 
of late even in the most authentic descendants of the Puritans. 
Thus Henry Adams inserts in a hymn to the Virgin a hymn to the 
dynamo. The whole conception has little relation to mediaeval 
Christianity and none at all to Puritanism. It is, however, closely 
related to the tendency of the nineteenth century to see in a sym- 
pathy that is emancipated from justice the proper corrective of a 
power that is pursued without regard to the law of measure. 


Jesuit he has fallen from law into legalism. It has been 
estimated that for one Verboten sign in Germany we 
already have a dozen in this country; only, having set 
up our Verboten sign, we get even by not observing it. 
Thus prohibition is pronounced by the Government, 
largely repudiated by the individual conscience, and 
enforced (very imperfectly) by the police. The multi- 
tude * of laws we are passing is one of many proofs that 
we are growing increasingly lawless. 

There are, to be sure, peripheral overlappings between 
the point of view of the Puritan and that of the human- 
itarian legalist. The Puritan inclined from the start to 
be meddlesome, as any one who has studied the ac- 
tivities of Calvin at Geneva will testify. But even here 
one may ask whether the decisive arguments by which 
we have been induced to submit to the meddling of the 
prohibitionist were not utilitarian rather than puritan- 
ical. “Booze,” says Mr. Henry Ford, “had to go out 
when modem industry and the motor car came in.” 
The tmth may be that we are prepared to make any 

' It is estimated that 62,014 statutes were passed by our na- 
tional and state legislatures in the period 1909-13. Some of these 
laws — for example, those regulating finger-bowls and the length 
of sheets in hotels — remind one of the minute prescriptions in- 
dulged in by the ancient city-states at their worst. Cf. Fustel de 
Coulanges, La CiU antique, p. 266: “ L’Etat exergait sa tyrannie 
jusque dans les plus petites choses; h Locres, la loi d^fendait aux 
hommes de boire du vin pur; h Rome, h Milet, h Marseille, elle 
le ddfendait aux femmes. II 6tait ordinaire que le costume fAt 
fix6 invariablement par les lois de chaque cit4; la legislation de 
Sparte r^glait la coiffure des femmes, et celle d’AthSnes leur 
interdisait d’emporter en voyage plus de trois robes. A Rhodes 
la loi defendait de se raser la barbe; k Byzance, elle punissait 
d’une amende celui qui possedait chez soi un rasoir; k Sparte, 
au contraire, elle exigeait qu’on se rasAt la moustache.” 


sacrifice to the Moloch of efficiency, including, appar- 
ently, that of our federal Constitution. 

The persons who have been carrying on of late a 
campaign against the Puritans like to look on themselves 
as “intellectuals.” But if the primary function of the 
intellect is to make accurate distinctions, it is plain that 
they do not deserve the title. For in dealing with this 
whole subject they have fallen into a twofold confusion. 
So far as they identify with Puritanism the defence of 
the principle of control in human nature, they are sim- 
ply attacking under that name the wisdom of the ages 
and all its authentic representatives in both East and 
West. To bestow, on the other hand, the name of Puri- 
tans on the humanitarian legalists who are now sapping 
our spiritual virility is to pay them an extravagant and 
undeserved compliment. Let us take as a sample of the 
attacks on the Puritans that of Mr. Theodore Dreiser, 
culminating in the grotesque assertion regarding the 
United States: “No country has such a peculiar, such a 
seemingly fierce determination to make the Ten Com- 
mandments work.” We are murdering one another at 
the rate of about ten thousand a year (with very few 
capital convictions) ‘ and are in general showing our- 
selves more criminally inclined than any other nation 
that is reputed to be civilized.* The explanation is that 

1 In 1885 there were 1808 homicides in the United States with 
108 executions; in 1910, 8,975 homicides with 104 executions. 

* “In 1918 Chicago had 22 robberies for every one robbery in 
London and 14 robberies for every one robbery in England and 
Wales. . . . Cities like St. Louis and Detroit, in their statistics 
of robbery and assault with intent to rob, frequently show annual 
totals varying from three times to five times greater than the 
number of such crimes reported for the whole of Great Britain. 


we axe trying to make, not the Ten Commandments, 
but humanitarianism work — and it is not working. If 
our courts are so ineffective in punishing crime, a chief 
reason is that they do not have the support of public 
opinion, and this is because the public is so largely com- 
posed of people who have set up sympathy for the under- 
dog as a substitute for all the other virtues, or else 
of people who hold that the criminal is the product 
of his environment and so is not morally responsible. 
Here as elsewhere there is a cooperation between 
those who mechanize life and those who sentimental- 
ize it. 

The belief in moral responsibility must be based on a 
belief in the possibility of an inner working of some kind 
with reference to standards. The utilitarian, as I have 
sought to show, has -put his main emphasis on outer 
working. The consequence of this emphasis, coinciding 
as it has with the multiplication of machines, has been 
the substitution of standardization for standards. The 
type of efficiency that our master commercialists pursue 
requires that a multitude of men should be deprived of 
their specifically human attributes, and become mere 
cogs in some vast machine. At the present rate even 
the grocer in a remote country town will soon not be 
left as much initiative as is needed to fix the price of a 
pound of butter. 

Liverpool is about one and a third times larger than Cleveland, 
and yet in 1919 Cleveland reported 31 robberies for every one 
reported in Liverpool.” (Raymond B. Fosdick, Crime in America 
and the Police, 1920, p. 18.) Mr. Fosdick ascribes our imperfect 
administration of justice to our legalism (p. 48) and our senti- 
mentalism (p. 44). 


Standardization is, however, a less serious menace to 
standards than what are currently known as “ideals.” 
The person who breaks down standards in the name of 
ideals does not seem to be impelled by base commercial 
motives, but to be animated, on the contrary, by the 
purest commiseration for the lowly and the oppressed. 
We must have the courage to submit this humanitarian 
zeal to a close scrutiny. We may perhaps best start with 
the familiar dictum that America is only another name 
for opportimity. Opportimity to do what? To engage 
in a scramble for money and material success, until the 
multimillionaire emerges as the characteristic product 
of a country dedicated to the proposition that all men 
are created equal? According to Napoleon, the French 
Revolution was also only another name for opportunity 
(la carrihre ouverle aux talents). Some of our commercial 
supermen have evidently been making use of their 
opportunity in a very Napoleonic fashion. In any case, 
opportunity has meaning only with reference to some 
true standard. The sentimentalist, instead of setting up 
some such standard by way of protest against the wrong 
type of superiority, inclines rather to bestow an un- 
selective sympathy on those who have been left behind 
in the race for economic advantage. Even when less 
materialistic in his outlook, he is prone to dodge the 
question of justice. He does not ask whether a man is 
an underdog because he has already had his opportunity 
and failed to use it, whether, in short, the man that he 
takes to be a victim of the social order is not rather a 
victim of his own misconduct * or at least of his own in- 

1 “This is a chain of galley-slaves,” cried Sancho, “who are 


dolence and inattention. He thus exposes himself to the 
penalties visited on those who set out to be kinder than 
the moral law. 

At bottom the point of view of the “uplifter” is so 
popular because it nourishes spiritual complacency; it 
enables a man to look on him self as “up ” and on some 
one else as “down.” But there is psychological if not 
theological truth in the assertion of Jonathan Edwards 
that complacent people are a “particular smoke” in 
God’s nostrUs. A man needs to look, not down, but up 
to standards set so much above his ordinary self as to 
make him feel that he is himself spiritually the under- 
dog. The man who thus looks up is becoming worthy 
to be looked up to in turn, and, to this extent, quali- 
fying for leadership. Leadership of this type, one may 
add, may prove to be, in the long run, the only ef- 
fectual counterpoise to that of the imperialistic super- 

No amount of devotion to society and its supposed 
interests can take the place of this inner obeisance of 
the spirit to standards. The humanitarian would seem 
to be caught here in a vicious circle. If he turns from 
the inner life to serve his fellow men, he becomes a busy- 
body. If he sets out again to become exemplary pri- 
marily with a view to the benefit of others, he becomes 

going to the galleys." ... “Be it how it may,” replied Don 
Quixote, “these people, since they are being taken, go by force 
and not of their own will. . . . Here comes in the exercise of my 
oflSce, to redress outrages and to succor and aid the afflicted.” 
“Let your worship reflect,” said Sancho, “that justice, which is 
the King’s self, does no violence or wrong to such people, but 
chastises them in punishment of their crimes.” (Don Quixote, 
Fart I, ch. xxn.) 


a prig. Nothing will avail short of humility. Humility, 
as Burke saw, is the ultimate root of the justice that 
should prevail in the secular order, as well as of the vir- 
tues that are specifically religious. The modem problem, 
I have been insisting, is to secure leaders with an alle- 
giance to standards, now that the traditional order with 
which Burke associated his standards and leadership 
has been so seriously shaken. Those who have broken 
with the traditional beliefs have thus far shown them- 
selves singularly ineffective in dealing with this prob- 
lem of leadership, even when they have admitted the 
need of leaders at all.^ The persons who have piqued 
themselves especially on being positive have looked 
for leadership to the exponents of physical science. 
Auguste Comte, for example, not only regarded men of 
science as the true modem priesthood, but actually 
disparaged moral effort on the part of the individual. 
I scarcely need to repeat here what I have said elsewhere 
— that the net result of a merely scientific “progress” 
is to produce efficient megalomaniacs. Physical science, 
excellent in its proper place, is, when exalted out of 
this place, the ugliest and most maleficent idol before 
which man has as yet consented to prostrate himself. 
If the essence of genuine science is to face loyally all the 
facts as they present themselves without dogmatic pre- 
possessions, one is justified in asking whether the man 
who forgets that physical science is, in Tennyson’s 
phrase, the second, not the first, is genuinely scien- 
tific; whether the very sharpest discrimination does 
not need to be established between science and utili- 
tarianism. Aristotle, for example, was a true man of 


science; he was not a utilitarian. ‘ Francis Bacon, on 
the other hand, is the prophet of the whole utilitarian 
movement, but one may doubt his eminence as a man 
of science. Quite apart from the fact that he failed 
to make important scientific discoveries, one may ques- 
tion the validity of the Baconian method. His fail- 
ure to do justice to deduction as part of a sound scien- 
tific method has often been noted . A more serious 
defect is his failure to recognize the role of the imagi- 
nation, or, what amounts to the same thing, the role 
of exceptional genius in the making of scientific discov- 

One cannot grant that an aristocracy of scientific in- 
tellectuals or indeed any aristocracy of intellect is what 
we need. This would mean practically to encourage the 
libido sciendi and so to put pride in the place of humility. 
Still less acceptable would be an aristocracy of artists; 
as the word art has come to be understood in recent 
times, this would mean an aristocracy of sesthetes who 
would attempt to base their selection on the libido sen- 
iiendi. The Nietzschean attempt, again, to found the 
aristocratic and selective principle on the sheer expan- 
sion of the will to power {libido dominandi) would lead in 
practice to horrible violence and finally to the death of 
civilization. The attempts that were made during the 

‘ “To be always seeking after the useful does not become free 
and exalted souls" (Politics, 1338b.) 

“ To suppose, as Bacon did, not only that nature is exhaustible, 
but that it may be exhausted by the accumulated observations 
of a number of essentially commonplace specialists is to be wrong 
at the centre. Cf. Novum Organum, Book i, Aphorism cxxn: 
“My way of discovering sciences goes far to level men’s wits, and 
leaves but little to individual excellence.” 


past century to establish a scale of values with reference 
to the three main lusts of the human heart often took on 
a mystical coloring. Man likes to think that he has God 
as an ally of his expansive conceit, whatever this conceit 
may chance to be. When, indeed, one has passed in re- 
view the various mysticisms of the modem movement, 
as they are set forth, for example, in the volumes of 
M. Seilliere, one is reminded of the saying of Bossuet: 
“True mysticism is so rare and unessential and false 
mysticism is so common and dangerous that one cannot 
oppose it too firmly.” 

If one discovers frequently a pseudo-mystical element 
in the claims to leadership of the sesthetes, the supermen 
and the scientific intellectuals, this element is even more 
visible in those who would, in the name of democracy, 
dispense with leadership altogether. Thus Walt Whit- 
man, as we have seen, would put no check on his “spon- 
taneous me”; he would have every one else indulge his 
“idiocrasy ” to the same degree, be a “genius,” in short, 
in the full romantic sense of the term. A liberty thus 
anarchical is to lead to equality and fraternity. If one 
tells the democrat of this tjqje that his programme is 
contraiy to common sense and the facts of experience, 
he is wont to take refuge in mystical “vision.” One 
needs in effect to be very mystical to suppose that men 
can come together by flying off each on his tempera- 
mental tangent. Whitman does not admit the need of 
the leader who looks up humbly to some standard and 
so becomes worthy to be looked up to in turn. The only 
leadership he contemplates apparently is that of the 
ideal democratic bard who flatters the people’s pride and 


chants the divine averaged He represents in an extreme 
form the substitution for vital control of expansive emo- 
tion under the name of love. Pride and seK-assertion, 
when tempered by love, will not, he holds, endanger the 
principle of union.’* The Union, though “always swarm- 
ing with blatherers, is yet,” he says, “always sure and 
impregnable.” The records of the past are not reassur- 
ing as to the maintenance of ethical union in a commu- 
nity that is swarming with “blatherers.” At all events, 
the offset to the blatherers will be found, not in any 
divine average, but in the true leader — the “still 
strong man in a blatant land.” We come here to another 
opposition that is one of first principles and is not there- 
fore subject to mediation or compromise — the oppo- 
sition, namely, between the doctrine of the saving 
remnant and that of the divine average. If one deals 
with human nature realistically one may find here and 
there a person who is worthy of respect and occasionally 
one who is worthy of reverence. Any one, on the other 
hand, who puts his faith in the divinity of the average is 
destined, if we are to trust the records of history, to pa.s3 
through disillusion to a final despair. We are reaching 
the stage of disillusion in this country at the present 
moment. According to the author of “Mmn Street,” the 

* “ The American demands a poetry . . . that will place in the 
van and hold up at all hazards the banner of the divine pride of 
man in himself (the radical foundation of the new religion). Long 
enough have the People been listening to poems in which common 
humanity, deferential, bends low, humiliated, acknowledging 
superiors. But America listens to no such poem. Erect, inflated, 
and fully self-esteeming be the chant; and then America will listen 
with pleased ears.” (Democratic Vistas.) 

* “ . . . the American Soul, with equal hemispheres, one Love, 
one Dilation or Pride.” 


average is not divine but trivial; according to the author 
of the “Spoon River Anthology,” it is positively hideous. 
It can scarcely be gainsaid that contemporary America 
offers an opening for satire. A great many people are 
gradually drifting into materialism and often cherishing 
the conceit at the same time that they are radiant ideal- 
ists. But satire, to be worth while, must be constructive. 
The opposite of the trivial is the distinguished; and one 
can determine what is distinguished only with reference 
to standards. To see Main Street on a background of 
standards would be decidedly helpful; but standards are 
precisely what our so-called realists lack. They are 
themselves a part of the disease that they are attempting 
to define. 

The democratic idealist is prone to make light of the 
whole question of standards and leadership because of 
his xmbounded faith in the plain people. How far is this 
appeal to the plain people justified and how far is it 
merely demagogic? There is undoubted truth in the say- 
ing that there is somebody who knows more than any- 
body, and that is everybody. Only one must allow 
everybody sufficient time to sift the evidence and add 
that, even so, everybody does not know very much. 
Burke told the electors of Bristol that he was not flatter- 
ing their opinions of the moment, but uttering the views 
that both they and he must have five years thence. 
Even in this triumph of the sober judgment of the peo- 
ple over its passing impression, the role of the true 
leader should not be underestimated. Thus in the year 
1795 the plain people of America were eager to give the 
fraternal accolade to the French Jacobins. The great 


and wise Washington opposed an alliance that would 
almost certainly have been disastrous, and as a result 
he had heaped upon him by journals like the “Aurora,” 
the forerunner of our modem “journals of opinion,” 
epithets that, as he himself complained, would not have 
been deserved by a common pickpocket. In a com- 
paratively short time Washington and his group were 
seen to be right, and those who seemed to be the spokes- 
men of the plain people were seen to be wrong. It is not 
clear that one can have much faith even in the sober 
second thought of a community that has no enlightened 
minority. A Haytian statesman, for example, might 
not gain much in appealing from Haytian opinion of to- 
day to Haytian opinion of five years hence. The demo- 
cratic idealist does not, however, mean as a mle by an 
appeal to the plain people an appeal to its sober second 
thought. He means rather the immediate putting into 
effect of the will of a numerical majority. Like the man 
in the comic song the people is supposed to “want what 
it wants when it wants it.” Our American drift for a 
number of years has unquestionably been towards a 
democracy of this radical type, as is evident from the 
increasing vogue of the initiative, referendum, and recall 
(whether of judges or judicial decisions) as well as from 
popular primaries and the direct election of Senators. 
The feeling that the people should act directly on all 
measures has led to the appearance in certain States of 
ballots thirty feet long! Yet the notion that wisdom 
resides in a popular majority at any particular moment 
should be the most completely exploded of all fallacies. 
If the plain people at Jerusalem had registered their will 


with the aid of the most improved type of ballot box, 
there is no evidence that they would have preferred 
Christ to Barabbas. In view of the size of the jury that 
condemned Socrates, one may affirm confidently that 
he was the victim of a “great and solemn referendum.” 
On the other hand, the plain people can be shown to 
have taken a special delight in Nero. But the plain peo- 
ple, it will be replied, has been educated and enlightened. 
The intelligence tests applied in connection with the 
selective draft indicate that the average mental age of 
our male voters is about fourteen.* The intelligence 
testers are, to be sure, under some suspicion as to the 
quality of their own intelligence. A more convincing 
proof of the low mentality of our population is found, 
perhaps, in the fact that the Hearst publications have 
twenty-five million readers. 

“There is nothing,” says Goethe, “more odious than 
the majority; for it consists of a few powerful leaders, 
a certain number of accommodating scoundrels and sub- 
servient weaklings, and a mass of men who trudge after 
them without in the least knowing their own minds.” 
If there is any truth in this analysis the majority in a 
radical democracy often rules only in name. No move- 
ment, indeed, illustrates more clearly than the suppos- 
edly democratic movement the way in which the will of 
highly organized and resolute minorities may prevail 
over the will of the inert and unorganized mass. Even 
though the mass does not consent to “trudge” after the 
minority, it is at an increasing disadvantage in its at- 

* For a tabulation of these tests see vol. xv of the Memoirs of 
the National Academy of Sciences, 


tempts to resist it. Physical science is on the side of the 
tyrannical minority. The ordinary citizen cannot have 
a machine gun by his fireside or a “tank” in his back 
yard. The most recent type of revolutionary idealist, 
though his chief concern is still to bestow benefit on the 
people, does not, to do him justice, hope to achieve this 
benefit through the majority, but rather through the 
direct action of organized minorities. He feels that he is 
justified in cramming his nostrum down the throat of the 
people, if necessary by force. 

The radical of this type is coming round to the doc- 
trine of the saving remnant and recognizing in his own 
way that everything finally hinges on the quality of the 
leadership. His views, however, as to this quality differ 
strangely from the traditional views. One must admit 
that, whatever theories of leadership may have been 
held traditionally, actual leadership has never been any 
too good. One scarcely suspects, as John Selden re- 
marked, “what a little foolery governs the world.” 
Moreover, the folly which has prevailed at the top of so- 
ciety, and that from the time of the Trojan War, has ever 
been faithfully reflected in the rank and file {Quidquid 
delirant reges — ) . One who surveys the past is at times 
tempted to acquiesce in the gloomy judgment of Dryden : 
“No government has ever been or ever can be wherein 
time-servers and blockheads will not be uppermost. 
The persons are only changed, but the same juggling in 
state, the same hypocrisy in rehgion, the same self- 
interest and mismanagement will remain forever. Blood 
and money will be lavished in all ages only for the pre- 
ferment of new faces with old consciences.” One should 


note, however, a difference between the bad leadership 
of the past and that of the modern revolutionary era. 
The leaders of the past have most frequently been bad 
in violation of the principles they professed, whereas it 
is when a Robespierre or a Lenin sets out to apply his 
principles that the man who is interested in the survival 
of civilization has reason to tremble. 

Dryden’s passage seems to suggest that what is really 
needed is not new faces with old consciences, but a trans- 
formation of conscience itself. It is precisely such a 
transformation that a revolutionary idealist hke Robes- 
pierre hopes to effect. For the corrupt conscience of the 
old type of aristocratic leader he would substitute a 
social conscience. The popular will that is inspired by 
this conscience is so immaculate, as we have seen, that 
it may safely be put in the place not merely of the royal 
but of the divine will. I have already tried to show that 
a leader who sets out to be only the organ of a “ general 
will” or “divine average,” that is conceived at times as 
essentially reasonable and at other times as essentially 
fraternal, will actually become imperialistic. It may be 
well at this point to submit this democratic idealism to 
still further analysis with special reference to its prob- 
able effect on our own international relations. The tend- 
ency for some time past has been to treat international 
law, not theoretically as an embodiment of reason, but 
positively as an embodiment of will.^ In that case, if 

^ In Le Droit international public posilif (1920), i, pp. 77 ff., 
J. de Louter has traced historically the opposition between those 
who base international law on “jus naturale,” conceived as uni- 
versal reason, and those who incline rather to see in it an exprea- 
aion of will (“jus voluntarium 


international law is to reflect any improvement in the 
relations between states, it must be shown that the sub- 
stitution of the popular will for the divine will has ac- 
tuall}’^ tended to promote ethical union among men even 
across national frontiers. If we analyze realistically 
the popular will, we find that it means the will of a mul- 
titude of men who are more and more emancipated from 
traditional standards and more and more given over to 
what I have termed the irresponsible quest of thrills. 
These thrills are, as we all know, supphed by sensa- 
tional newspapers and in international affairs involve 
transitions, often disconcertingly sudden, from pacifism 
to jingoism. Any one who can recollect the period im- 
mediately preceding our conflict with Spain will be 
sufficiently aware of the r61e that this t 3 Tpe of jommalism 
may play in precipitating war. Let us ask ourselves 
again whether the chances of a clash between America 
and Japan are likely to diminish if Japan becomes more 
democratic, if, in other words, the popular will is sub- 
stituted for the will of a small group of “elder states- 
men.” Any one who knows what the Japanese sensa<- 
tional press has already done to foment suspicion 
against America is justified in harboring doubts on this 

A democracy, the realistic observer is forced to con- 
clude, is likely to be idealistic in its feelings about itself, 
but imperialistic in its practice. The idealism and the ' 
imperialism, indeed, are in pretty direct ratio to one an- 
other. For example, to be fraternal in Walt Whitman’s 
sense is to be boundlessly expansive, and a boundless 
expansiveness, is, in a world like this, incompatible with 


peace. Whitman imagines the United States as expand- 
ing until it absorbs Canada and Mexico and dominates 
both the Atlantic and the Pacific — a programme that 
would almost certainly involve us in war with the whole 
world. If we go, not by what Americans feel about them- 
selves, but by what they have actually done, one must 
conclude that we have shown ourselves thus far a con- 
sistently expansive, in other words, a consistently im- 
perialistic, people.^ We have merely been expanding, it 
may be replied, to our natural frontiers; but we are 
already in the Philippines, and manifestly in danger of 
becoming involved in Asiatic adventures. Japan, a 
coimtry with fifty-seven million inhabitants (increasing 
at the rate of about sbc hundred thousand a year), on a 
group of islands not as large as the State of California, 
only seventeen per cent of which is arable, has at least 
a plausible pretext for reaching out beyond her natural 
frontiers. But for us, with our almost limitless and still 
largely undeveloped resources, to risk the horrors of war 
imder modem conditions for anything we are likely to 
gain from expanding eastward, would be an extreme ex- 
ample of sheer restlessness of spirit and of an intemper- 
ate commercialism. It is a part of our psychology that 
each main incident in our national history should take 
on a highly ideahstic coloring. ' For example, we were on 
the verge of a conflict with Mexico a few years ago as the 
result of an unwarranted meddling with her sover- 
eignty. President Wilson at once described the incipi- 
ent struggle as a war of “service.” Cicero says that 

^ This consistent imperialism has been traced by H. H. Powers 
in his volume; America among the Nations. 


Rome gained the mastery of the world by coming to the 
aid of her allies. In the same way it may be .said some 
day of us that, as the result of a series of outbursts of 
idealism, we changed from a federal republic to a highly 
centralized and bureaucratic empire. We are willing to 
admit that all other nations are self-seeking, but as for 
ourselves, we hold that we act only on the most disin- 
terested motives. We have not as yet set up, like revolu- 
tionary France, as the Christ of Nations, but during the 
late war we liked to look on ourselves as at least the 
Sir Galahad of Nations. If the American thus regards 
himself as an idealist at the same time that the foreigner 
looks on him as a dollar-chaser, the explanation may be 
due partly to the fact that the American judges himself 
by the way he feels, whereas the foreigner judges him 
by what he does. 

This is not, of course, the whole truth. Besides our 
tradition of idealism there is our unionist tradition based 
on a sane moral realism. “It is a maxim,” says Wash- 
ington, “founded on the universal experience of man- 
kind, that no nation is to be tmsted further than it is 
bound by its interests; and no president, statesman or 
politician will venture to depart from it.” All realistic 
observation confirms Washington. Those who are in- 
spired by his spirit believe that we should be nationally 
prepared, and then that we should mind our own busi- 
ness. ' The tendency of our idealists, on the other hand, 
is to be unprepared and then to engage in more or less 
general meddlingl A third attitude may be distinguished 
that may properly be associated with Roosevelt. The 
follower of Roosevelt wants preparedness, only he can- 


not, like the follower of Washington, be counted on to 
mind his own business. The humanitarian would, of 
course, have us meddle in foreign affairs as part of his 
programme of world service. Unfortunately, it is more 
difficult than he supposes to engage in such a programme 
without getting involved in a programme of world em- 
pire. The term sentimental imperialism may be applied 
to certain incidents in ancient Roman history,^ Some 
of the motives that we professed for entering the Great 
War remind one curiously of the motives that men like 
Flamininus professed for going to the rescue of Greece. 
Cicero, writing over a century later and only a few 
months before his assassination by the emissaries of the 
Triumvirs, said that he himself had once thought that 
Rome stood for world service rather than for world em- 
pire, but that he had been bitterly disillusioned. He 
proceeds to denounce Julius Cresar, the imperialistic 
leader par excellence, as a demon in human form who did 
evil for its own sake. But Caesar had at least the merit 
of seeing that the Roman ethos w'as changing, that as 
the result of the breakdown of religious restraint (for 
which Stoical “service” was not an adequate substi- 
tute), the Romans were rapidly becoming unfit for 
republican institutions. 

Some persons, indeed, are inclined to go beyond par- 
ticular comparisons of this kind and develop a general 
parallel between decadent Rome and modem America. 
Such a parallel is always very incomplete and must 
be used with great caution. We need, in the first 

* See Tenney Frank’s Roman Itnsterialism, especially oh. viu 
(“Sentimental Politics”). 


place, to define with some precision what we mean by 
decadence. The term is often used vaguely by persons 
who are suffering from what one may call the illusion of 
the “good old times.” ‘ Livy is surely a bit idyllic when 
he exclaims: “Where will you now find in one man this 
modesty and uprightness and loftiness of spirit that then 
belonged to a whole people?” Yet if one compares the 
Rome of the Repubhc with the Rome of the Empire one 
is conscious of a real decline. The Senate that had 
seemed to Cineas, the adviser of Pyrrhus, an assem- 
bly of demigods, had become by the time of Tiberius 
a gathering rather of cringing sycophants. Horace was 
uttering only the sober truth when he proclaimed the 
progressive degeneracy of the Romans of his time.® The 
most significant symptom of this degeneracy seemed to 
Horace and other shrewd observers to be the relaxation 
of the bonds of the family. 

Are we witnessing a similar moral deliquescence in 
this country, and, if so, how far has it gone? One of our 
foreign critics asserts that we have already reached the 
“ Heliogabalus stage” — which is absurd. But at the 
same time it is not to be denied that the naturalistic 
notion of liberty has undermined in no small measure 
the two chief unifying influences of the past — the 
Church and the family. The decline in the discipline of 
the family has been fairly recent. Persons are still living 

‘ As the rural philosopher remarked: “Things ain’t what they 
used to be — in fact they never was.” 

‘ .ffitas parentum peior avis tulit 
Nos nequiores, mox daturos 
Progeniem vitiosiorem. 

Carminum, Lib. lu, 6, 


who can remember the conditions that prevailed in the 
Puritan household.* The process of emancipation from 
the older restraint has not usually presented itself as a 
lapse into mere materialism. Idealism in the current 
sense of that term has tended to take the place of tradi- 
tional religion. The descendants of the Puritans have 
gone in for commercialism, to be sure, especially since 
the Civil War, but it has been commercialism tempered 
by humanitarian crusading. As I have pointed out, the 
humanitarian does not, like the genuine Puritan, seek to 
get at evil in the heart of the individual, so that he is 
finally forced to resort to outer regulation. The egoistic 
impulses that are not controlled at their source tend to 
prevail over an ineffectual altruism in the relations of 
man with man and class with class. The special mark of 
materialism, which is to regard property, not as a means 
to an end, but as an end in itself, is more and more visi- 
ble. The conservative nowadays is interested in con- 
serving property for its own sake and not, like Burke, in 
conserving it because it is an almost indispensable sup- 
port of personal liberty, a genuinely spiritual thing. As 
for the progressive, his preoccupation with property and 
what he conceives to be its just distribution amounts to 
a morbid obsession. Orderly party government will 
become increasingly difficult if we continue to move in 
this direction, and we shall finally be menaced by class 
war, if, indeed, we are not menaced by it already. Every 
student of history is aware of the significance of this 

* Professor G. H. Palmer has written from his own memories 
an article on “ The Puritan Home.” {Atlantic Monthly, Novem- 
ber, 1921.) 


particular symptom in a democracy. One may sum up 
what appears to be our total trend at present by saying 
that we are moving through an orgy of humanitarian 
legalism towards a decadent imperialism. 

The important offsetting influence is our great union- 
ist tradition. One should not, however, underestimate 
the difficulties in the way of maintaining this tradition. 
The idea that the State should have a permanent or 
higher self that is felt as a veto power upon its ordinary 
self rests ultimately upon the assertion of a similar dual- 
ism in the individual. We have seen that this assertion 
has in the Occident been inextricably bound up with 
certain Christian beliefs that have been weakened by 
the naturalistic movement. We are brought back here 
to the problem with which we have been confronted 
so often in the course of the present argument, how, 
namely, to get modern equivalents for the traditional 
beliefs, above all some fresh basis for the affirmation of 
a frein vital or centripetal element in liberty. What the 
men of the French Revolution wanted, according to 
Joubert, was not religious liberty, but irreligious liberty. 
In that case, the French modernist retorts bitterly, you 
would have us give up revolutionary liberty and become 
Jesuits. Similarly, if one points out to an American 
modernist the inanity of his idealism as a substitute for 
the traditional controls, he will at once accuse you of 
wishing to revert to Puritanism. Strictly speaking, how- 
ever, one does not need to revert to anything. It is 
a part of my own method to put Confucius behind 
Aristotle and Buddha behind Christ. The best, how- 
ever, that even these great teachers can do for us is to 


help us to discover what is already present in ourselves.* 
From this point of view they are well-nigh indispen- 

Let us begin, therefore, by ridding our minds of unreal 
alternatives. If we in America are not content with a 
stodgy commercialism, it does not follow that we need, 
on the one hand, to return to Puritanism, or, on the 
other, to become “liberals” in the style of “The New 
Republic”; nor, again, need we evolve under the guid- 
ance of Mr. H. L. Mencken into second-rate Nietz- 
scheans. We do need, however, if we are to gain any 
hold on the present situation, to develop a little moral 
gravity and intellectual seriousness. We shall then see 
that the strength of the traditional doctrines, as com- 
pared with the modernist position, is the comparative 
honesty with which they face the fact of evil. We shall 
see that we need to restore to human nature in some 
critical and experimental fashion the “old Adam” that 
the idealists have been so busy eliminating. A resto- 
ration of this kind ought not to lead merely to a lapse 
from naturahstic optimism into naturalistic pessimism ; 
nothing is easier than such a lapse and nothing at bottom 
is more futile. Both attitudes are about equally fatal- 
istic and so undermine moral responsibihty. A survey 
of the facts would suggest that man is morally responsi- 
ble, but that he is always trying to dodge this responsi- 
bility; that what he suffers from, in short, is not fate in 
any sense of the word, but spiritual supineness. There 
may be truth in the saying that the devil’s other name 

* Cf. Pascal, Penseea, 64: "Ce n’est pas dans Montaigne, mais 
dans moi que je trouve tout ce que j’y vois.” 


is inertia. Nothing is more curious than to trace histori- 
cally the way in which some great teaching like that of 
Christ or Buddha has been gradually twisted until man 
has adjusted it more or less completely to his ancient 
indolence. Several centuries ago there was a sect of 
Japanese Buddhism known as the Way of Hardships; 
shortly after there arose another sect known as the Easy 
Way which at once gained great popularity and tended 
to supplant the Way of Hardships. But the Japanese 
Way of Hardships is itself an easy way if one compares 
it with the original way of Buddha. One can follow, 
indeed, very clearly the process by which Buddhist 
doctrine descended gradually from the austere and al- 
most inaccessible height on which it had been placed by 
its founder to the level of the prayer mill. It was an- 
nounced in the press not long ago that as a final improve- 
ment some of the prayer mills in Thibet are to be oper- 
ated by electricity. The man who hopes to save society 
by turning the crank of a legislative mill or who sets 
up as a “socio-religious engineer” may call himself a 
Christian, but he is probably as remote from the true 
spirit of Jesus as some Eastern votary of the Easy Way 
is from the true spirit of Buddha. 

The essence of man’s spiritual indolence, as I have 
already pointed out, is that he does not wish to look up 
to standards and discipline himself with reference to 
them. He wishes rather to expand freely along the lines 
of his dominant desire. He grasps eagerly at everything 
that seems to favor this desire and so tends, as the say- 
ing is, to keep him in good conceit with himself. Disraeli 
discovered, we are told, that the best way to get on with 


Queen I^ictoria was to flatter her and not to be afraid of 
overdoing the flattery, but “to lay it on with a trowel.” 
Demos, as was pointed out long ago, craves flatterj' like 
any other monarch, and in his theorj' of popular sov- 
ereignty Rousseau has, it must be admitted, laid this 
flattery on with a trowel. In general, his notion that evil 
LS not in man himself, but in his institutions, has en- 
joyed immense popularity, not because it is true, but 
because it is flattering. 

Observations of the kind I have been making are likely 
to lay one open to the charge of cynicism. One needs, 
however, to cultivate a wholesome cynicism as the only 
way of avoiding the unwholesome kind — that of the 
disillusioned sentimentalist. When I speak of a whole- 
some cynicism, I mean that of Aristotle who says that 
“most men do evil when they have an opportunity,” or 
that of Bossuet, expressing the moderate Christian view, 
w'hcn he speaks of “the prodigious malignity of the 
human heart always inclined to do evil,” There is no 
harm in cynicism provided the cynic does not think of 
himself as viewing human nature from the outside and 
from some superior pinnacle. In the sense I have just 
defined, cynicism, indeed, has many points in common 
with religious humility. 

Let us pursue then our realistic analysis without fear 
of the charge of cynicism. Man would not succumb so 
easily to flattery if he did not begin by flattering him- 
self; his self-flattery is closely related in turn to his moral 
indolence. I have said that the whole of life may be 
summed up in the words diversion and conversion. But 
man does not want conversion, the adjustment in other 


words of his natural will to some higher will, because of 
the moral effort it implies. In this sense he is the ever- 
lasting trifler. But, though he wishes diversion, he is 
loath at the same time to admit that he is missing the ( 
fruits of conversion. He wills the ends, because they are 
plainly desirable, but he does not will the means because 
they are difficult and disciplinary. In short, he harbors 
incompatible desires and so listens eagerly to those who 
encourage him to think that it is possible to have the 
good thing without paying the appointed price. ‘ 

Two main modes in which men are thus flattered may 
be distinguished. First, in an age of authority and ac- 
cepted standards, they are induced to substitute for 
the reality of spiritual discipline some ingenious art of 
going through the motions. An extreme example is that 
of the fashionable lady described by Boileau who (with 
the aid of her spiritual director) had convinced herself 
that she could enjoy all the pleasures of hell on the way 
to paradise. What concerns us now, however, is not the 
mode of flattery that is based on exaggerated respect for 
outer authority, but the other main mode that flourishes 
in an age of individualism. The cushions that, according 
to Bossuet, the Jesuits put under the sinner’s elbows are 
as nothing compared to the cushions that the sinner puts 
under his own elbows when left to himself. In a period 
like the present every man is his own Jesuit.^ Rous- 
seau’s sycophancy of human nature proved to be par- 
ticularly suited to the requirements of the individualistic 

‘ Cf. Confucius; “Alas! I have never met a man who could see 
his own faults and arraign himself at the bar of his own con- 


era. By his sophistry of feeling he satisfied in a new and 
fetching fashion man’s permanent desire, especially in 
the realm of moral values, to have his cake and eat it too. 
The self-flattery that encourages the huddling together 
of incompatible desires has never been pushed further 
than in this movement. When one considers, for in- 
stance, the multitude of those who have hoped to com- 
bine peace and brotherhood with a return to nature, one 
is forced to conclude that an outstanding human trait 
is a prodigious and pathetic gullibility. 

The chief corrective of gullibility is, in an age of in- 
dividualistic emancipation, a full and free play of the 
critical spirit. The more critical one becomes at such a 
time, the more likely one is to achieve standards and 
avoid empty conceits. Now to criticize is literally to 
discriminate. The student of both the natural and the 
human law needs to be very discriminating; one should 
note, however, an important difference between them. 
The discrimination of the man of science is exercised 
primarily upon physical phenomena, that of the human- 
ist primarily upon words. “ The beginning of genuine 
culture,” Socrates is reported to have said, “is the 
scrutiny of general terms.” ‘ Socrates himself was so ac- 
comphshed in this type of scrutiny that he still deserves 
to be the master of those who are aiming at criticism. I 
have said that the hope of civilization lies not in the di- 
vine average, but in the saving remnant. It is plain that 
in an age like the present, which is critical in every sense 
of the word, the remnant must be highly Socratic. 

Discrimination of the humanistic type is especially 
* See Epictetus, Dissert, i, 17. 


needed in the field of political theory and practice. 
Confucius, when asked what would be his first concern 
if the reins of government were put into his hands, re- 
plied that his first concern would be to define his terms 
and make words correspond with things. If our modem 
revolutionaries have suffered disillusions of almost un- 
paralleled severity, it is too often because they have 
given their imagination to words, without making sure 
that these words corresponded with things; and so they 
have felt that they were bound for the promised land 
when they were in reality only swimming in a sea of 
conceit. “The fruit of dreamy hoping is, waking, blank 
despair.” The disenchantment of Hazlitt with the 
French Revolution is t3Tjical of that of innumerable 
other “idealists.” “The French Revolution,” he says, 
“was the only match that ever took place between 
philosophy and experience; and, waking from the trance 
of theory to the sense of reality, we hear the words 
truth, reason, virtue, liberty with the same indifference or 
contempt that the cynic, who has married a jilt or a 
termagant, listens to the rhapsodies of lovers.” 

The reason that the Rousseauist often alleges for his 
attacks on the analytical intellect, the necessary instru- 
ment of a Socratic dialectic, is that it destroys unity. 
His disparagement of analysis may be due, however, 
even less to his love of unity than to his dislike of effort. 
It may be that, like Rousseau himself, he is seeking to 
give to indolence the dignity of a philosophical occu- 
pation.i If it is a strenuous thing to concentrate im- 

* Cf. Joubert on the writings of Rousseau: “La paresse y prend 
I’attitude d’une occupation philosophique.” 


aginatively on the facts of the natural order, the con- 
centration on the facts of the human order that enables 
one to use one’s terms correctly is even more strenuous. 
What a monstrous inequality, said Lincoln, to pay an 
honest laborer seventy cents a day for digging coal and 
a President seventy dollars a day for digging abstrac- 
tions! The argument that Lincoln thus puts forth ironi- 
cally, a follower of Karl Marx would be capable of em- 
ploying seriously. But if the President does honest 
work, if he digs his abstractions properly, instead of 
substituting some art of going through the motions, he 
must display the utmost contention of spirit. There 
have been moments in recent years when a President of 
this kind would have been worth to the country many 
times seventy dollars a day. Did the idealistic abstrac- 
tions, one must make bold to ask, that Mr. Woodrow 
Wilson poured forth so profusely when President, satisfy 
the Socratic and Confucian test — did they correspond 
with things? The late Mr. Walter H. Page concluded, 
after unusual opportunities of observation, that Mr. 
Wilson was “not a leader, but rather a stubborn 
phrase-maker.” Fine words, according to the homely 
adage, butter no parsnips. They may, however, it would 
seem, put a man in the White House. Mr. Wilson, it 
should be remembered, was not only an ex-college presi- 
dent himself, but in his main policies he had the eager 
support of practically the whole corporation of college 
presidents. If Mr. Page’s estimate of Mr. Wilson should 
prove to be correct, it would follow that our American 
remnant — and college presidents should surely belong 
to the remnant — is not sufficiently critical. The ques- 


tion is one of some gravity, if it be true, as I said at the 
outset, that democracy will in the long run have to be 
judged, like any other form of government, by the 
quality of its leadership, and if it be true, furthermore, 
that under existing conditions we must get our standards 
and our leadership along Soeratic rather than traditional 
lines. “What the Americans most urgently require,” 
said Matthew Arnold, “is a steady exhibition of cool 
and sane criticism.” That is precisely what they require 
and what they have never had. 

If we had a Soeratic remnant one of its chief concerns 
would be to give a civilized content to the catch-words 
that finally govern the popular imagination. The sophist 
and the demagogue flourish in an atmosphere of vague 
and inaccurate definition. With the aid of the Soeratic 
critic, on the other hand. Demos might have some 
chance of distinguishing between its friends and its 
flatterers — something that Demos has hitherto been 
singularly unable to do. Let one consider those who 
have posed with some success as the people’s friends 
from Cleon of Athens to Marat; and from Marat to 
William Randolph Hearst. It would sometimes seem, 
indeed, that the people might do very well were it not 
for its “ friends.” The demagogue has been justified only 
too often in his assvunption that men may be led, not by 
their noses, but by their ears as tenderly as asses are. 
The records of the past reveal that the multitude has 
frequently been perauaded by a mirage of words that 
the ship of state was steering a straight course for 
Eldorado, when it was in reality drifting on a lee-shore; 
and the multitude has not been apprized of the peril 
until it was within the very sound of the breakers. 


It is only too evident that we are not coping ade- 
quately with this special problem of democracy; that we 
are, on the contrary, in danger of combining the strength 
of giants with the critical intelligence of children. Mil- 
lions of Americans were ready not so very long ago to 
hail William Jennings Bryan as a “peerless leader.” 
Other millions are ready apparently to bestow a similar 
salute on Henry Ford — in spite of the almost incredible 
exhibition he made of himself with his “Peace Ship.” 
If our Socratic critics were sufficiently numerous, the 
followers of such leaders would finally become conscious 
of something in the air that was keen, crisp, and danger- 
ous; they might finally be forced to ask themselves 
whether the ideals with which they were being beguiled 
really mean anything, or at afi events an3rthing more 
than the masking in fine phrases of the desire to get one’s 
hand into the other citizen’s pocket. The devil, as is 
well known, is a comparatively harmless person unless 
he is allowed to disguise himself as an angel of light. An 
unvarnished materialism is in short less to be feared than 
sham spirituality. Sham spirituality is especially pro- 
moted by the blurring of distinctions, which is itself 
promoted by a tampering with general terms. A dia- 
lectical scrutiny of such terms is therefore indispensable 
if one is to determine whether what a man takes to be 
his idealism is merely some windy inflation of the spirit, 
or whether it has support in the facts of human ex- 

I have already made some application of the Socratic 
method to idealism, a term that has come to be almost 
synonymous with hiunanitarianism. I have pointed out, 


for instance, how the utilitarian has corrupted the word 
comfort and the sentimentalist the word virtue. The 
idealist may, indeed, retort that I have myself admitted 
that certain elements essential to salvation are omitted 
in the Socratic scheme of things, and that for these ele- 
ments we need to turn from Socrates to Christ; and he 
will proceed to identify the gospel of Christ with his 
own gospel of sympathy and service. Humanitarian 
idealism unquestionably owes much of its prestige, per- 
haps its main prestige, to the fact that it has thus asso- 
ciated itself with Christianity. I have sought to show, 
however, on strictly psychological grounds, that hu- 
manitarian service does not involve, in either its utili- 
tarian or its sentimental form, the truths of the inner 
life and that it cannot therefore be properly derived from 
Christ. The transformation, indeed, of this great master 
of the inner life into a master of “uplift” must seem to 
austere Christians, if there are any left, a sort of second 
crucifixion. In substituting the love of man for the love 
of God the humanitarian is working in a vicious circle, 
for unless man has in him the equivalent of the love of 
God he is not lovely. Furthermore, it is important that 
man should not only love but fear the right things. The 
question was recently raised at Paris why medical men 
were tending to usurp the influence that formerly be- 
longed to the clergy. The obvious reply is that men 
once lived in the fear of God, whereas now they live in 
the fear of microbes. It is difficult to see how one can 
get on humanitarian lines the equivalent of the truth 
that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. 

Perhaps there is no better way of dealing with the 


humanitarian movement than to take one’s point of 
departure in certain sayings of Jesus and at the same 
time so to protect them by a Socratic dialectic as to 
bring out their true meaning. For the present desider- 
atum, it may be, is not to renounce Socrates ' in favor 
of Christ, but rather to bring Socrates to the support of 

Three sayings of Jesus would seem especially relevant, 
if we wish to bring out the contrast between his inspired 
and imaginative good sense and humanitarianism : (1) 
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and 
unto God the things that are God’s.’’ (2) “By their 
fruits ye shall know them.” (3) One should build one’s 
house upon the rock. 

I have already glanced at a violation of the first of 
these maxims — that, namely, which has taken place in 
connection with the humanitarian attempt to abolish 
war even at the expense of justice, and the closely re- 
lated attempt to convert the prince of peace into a 
prince of pacifism. Americans often fear that the Roman 
Catholic Church may use the machinery of democracy 
to its own ends; and in parts of the country where 
Catholic voters are in the majority such apprehensions 
— for example, the apprehension regarding the Catholic 
domination of the schools — may not be entirely with- 
out foundation. It was not, however, a Catholic but a 
Protestant who recently felt it necessary to recall to his 
fellow believers that the kingdom of heaven is within us 

• In his Life of Christ Papini not only attacks Socrates specifi* 
cally, but bases his whole point of view on an abdication of the 
critical spirit. 


and not at Washington. The Protestant churches seem 
to be turning more and more to social service, which 
means that they have been substituting for the truths 
of the inner life various causes and movements and re- 
forms and crusades. If W. J. Bryan had been bom fifty 
years earlier he would veiy likely have been a religious 
revivalist; the religion of the revivalist was still in a 
fashion a religion of the inner life. Bryan’s protest, how- 
ever, in eonnection with his crusade for free silver, 
against the cmcifixion of the people on a cross of gold, 
not only involves an unusually mawkish mixture of the 
things of God and the things of Cresar, but might have 
led to political action that, so far from being religious, 
would have been subversive of common honesty. 

One should face frankly the question whether the 
crusading spirit is in any of its manifestations genuinely 
Christian. The missionary spirit, the purely spiritual 
appeal from man to man, is unquestionably Christian. 
By the crusading spirit I mean, on the other hand, the 
attempt to achieve spiritual ends collectively through 
the machinery of the secular order. If one takes a long- 
range view, the question is one that should be of special 
interest to Frenchmen, for France has been more than 
any other country the crusading nation. It has been 
said that the religious cmsading of the Middle Ages in 
which France played the leading part showed that 
Europe was already sloughing off genuine Christianity. 
The contrast is striking in any case between the Christi- 
anity of this period and that of the first centuries. The 
more or less legendary account of the Theban Legion 
that was ready to fight bravely for the Emperor when 


he kept within the temporal domain, but allowed itself 
to be martyred to the last man unresistingly rather than 
worship him as a God, reflects accurately enough the 
attitude of the early Christian. The ruthless massacre 
that marked the first entrance of the crusaders into 
Jerusalem (15 July, 1099) is sufficient proof that they 
did not maintain any such distinction between the 
spiritual and the temporal order.* It seems hardly 
necessary to ask which of the two, the crusader or the 
member of the Theban Legion, was nearer in spirit to 
the Founder. By his confusion of the things of God with 
the things of Caesar the crusader was in danger of substi- 
tuting a will to power for the will to peace that is at the 
heart of genuine Christianity.* The emergence of the 
will to power is even more obvious in the humanita- 
rian crusader, as I attempted to show in my study of 
the Rousseauistic side of the French Revolution. The 
revolutionary formula, “liberty, equality, fraternity,” 
is in itself only a portentous patter of words.® These 
words may, no doubt, be so defined both separately and 

* " It was an easier thing to consecrate the fighting instinct 
than to curb it. . . . [The crusader] might butcher all day till he 
waded ankle deep in blood and then at nightfall kneel sobbing 
for very joy at the altar of the Sepulchre — for was he not red 
from the winepress of the Lord? One can readily understand the 
popularity of the Crusades when one reflects that they permitted 
men to get to the other world by fighting hard on earth and al- 
low'ed them to gain the fruits of asceticism by the way of hedon- 
ism.” (Article on “Crusades,” by Ernest Barker, in eleventh 
edition of Encydojxedia Brilannica.) 

“ The predominance of the imperialistic over the religious motif 
is especially conspicuous in the fourth Crusade (1202-04). 

* Fitzjames Stephen has submitted this formula to a drastic 
analysis in Liberty, Equality, Fralernity. This book contains also 
a refutation of Mill’s essay on Ldberty. 


in their relation to one another as to have a genuinely 
religious meaning. Understood in the fashion of 
Rousseau, that is, as summing up the supposed results 
of a return to “ nature,” they encouraged one of the most 
virulent forms of imperialism. The French themselves 
are growing more and more doubtful about the “ideal- 
istic” side of their Revolution (it goes without saying 
that the Revolution had other sides). They are growing 
more realistic in temper.* The great problem for them 
as for all of us is, that, on being disillusioned regarding 
this type of idealism, they should not become merely 
Machiavellian realists. 

At all events, France can no longer be looked upon as 
the crusading nation. It is becoming the dangerous 
privilege of the United States to display more of the 
crusading temper than any other coimtry in both its 
domestic and its foreign policies. Yet if one may prop- 
erly question the religious crusading of which the French 
were once so fond (Gesta Dei -per Francos), how much 
more properly may one question the activities of our 
“uplifters” {Gesta humanitatis per Americanos). We 
are being deprived gradually of our liberties on the 
ground that the sacrifice is necessary to the good of 
society. If we attend carefully to the psychology of the 
persons who manifest such an eagerness to serve us, we 
shall find that they are even more eager to control us. 
What one discovers, for example, rmder the altruistic 
professions of the leaders of a typical organization for 

* This tendency was noted by various observers even before the 
war, for example, by J. E. C. Bodley in his essay The Decay of 
Ideidim in France (1912). 


humanitarian crusading, like the Anti-Saloon League, 
is a growing will to power and even an incipient terror- 
ism. Let one consider again Mr. Woodrow Wilson, 
who, more than any other recent American, sought to 
extend our ideahsm beyond our national frontiers. In 
the pursuit of his scheme for world service, he was led 
to make hght of the constitutional checks on his author- 
ity and to reach out almost automatically for unlimited 
power. If we refused to take his humanitarian crusading 
seriously we were warned that we should “break the 
heart of the world.” If the tough old world had ever had 
a heart in the Wilsonian sense, it would have been broken 
long ago. The truth is that this language, at once ab- 
stract and sentimental, reveals a temper at the opposite 
pole from that of the genuine statesman. He was inflex- 
ible and uncompromising in the defence of his “ ideal,” 
the League of Nations, which, as a corrective of the push 
for power on the national scale, is under the suspicion of 
being only a humanitarian chimera. At the same time 
he was only too ready to yield to the push for power of 
the labor unions (Adamson Act), a form of the instinct 
of domination so full of menace to free institutions that, 
rather than submit to it, a genuine statesman would 
have died in his tracks. One may contrast profitably the 
way in which Mr. Wilson faced this issue with the way 
in which Grover Cleveland, perhaps the last of our Presi- 
dents who was unmistakably in our great tradition, 
faced the issue of free silver. 

The particular confusion of the things of God and the 
things of Caesar promoted by Mr. Wilson and the other 
“idealists” needs to have brought to bear on it the 


second of the sayings of Jesus that I have cited ("By 
their fruits ye shall know them”)- The idealists so 
plainly fail to meet the test of fruits that they are taking 
refuge more and more, especially since the war, in their 
good intentions. The cynic might, indeed, complain 
that they already have hell paved at least twice over 
with their good intentions. We can no more grant that 
good intentions are enough in dealing with men than we 
can grant that they suffice a chemist who is h a n d lin g 
high explosives. Under certain conditions, human na- 
ture itself may become one of the highest of high ex- 
plosives. Above all, no person in a position of political 
responsibility can afford to let any “ideal” come be- 
tween him and a keen inspection of the facts. It is only 
too evident that this true vision was found before the 
war in imperialists of the tjqje of Lord Roberts rather 
than in liberals of the type of Asquith and Grey. It does 
not follow that the realism that one should oppose to 
the "idealists” need be of a merely imperialistic type; 
it may be a complete moral realism. The moral realist 
will not allow himself to be whisked off into any cloud- 
cuckoo-land in the name of the ideal. He will pay no 
more attention to the fine phrases in which an ideal of 
this kind is clothed than he would to the whistling of the 
wind arormd a comer. The idealist will, therefore, 
denounce him as “hard.” His hardness is in any case 
quite unlike that of the Machiavellian realist. If the 
moral realist seems hard to the idealist, this is because 
of his refusal to shift, in the name of sympathy or social 
justice or on any other ground, the struggle between 
good and evil from the individual to society. If we 


restore the moral struggle to the individual, we are 
brought back at once to the assertion in some form or 
other of the tniths of the inner life. The question that 
may properly be raised at present is not whether this or 
that cause or movement or reform is breaking down, but 
whether humanitarian crusading in general as a substi- 
tute for the inner life is not breaking down. The failure 
of humanitarianism might be even more manifest than 
it is were it not for the survival — and that even in the 
humanitarians themselves — of habits that derive from 
an entirely different view of life. The ethos of a com- 
munity does not disappear in a day, even when the con- 
victions that sustain it have been imdermined. This 
slow decline of an ethos adds to the difficulty of judging 
any particular doctiine by its fruits. These fruits are 
often slow to appear. For example, no one has been 
more successful in breaking down American educational 
tradition in favor of humanitarian conceptions than 
President Eliot, who is himself an unusually fine product 
of the Puritan discipline.' He has owed his great influ- 
ence largely to the fact that many men are sensitive to a 
dignified and impressive personality, whereas very few 
men are capable of weighing the ultimate tendencies of 
ideas. One might have more confidence in the elective 
system if it could be covmted on to produce President 

Though the traditional habits survive the traditional 

* If one wishes to measure the wideness of the gap between 
President Eliot’s doctrine and that of the Puritans, let him read 
together Jonathan Edwards’s sermon on ‘‘A divine and super- 
natural Light,” a bit of quintessential Puritanism, and “ Five 
American Contributions to Civilization." 


beliefs, they do not survive them indefinitely. With the 
progressive weakening, not merely of the Puritan ethos, 
but of the Christian ethos of the Occident in general, it 
may become harder and harder to justify humanitarian- 
ism experimentally. This movement has from Bacon’s 
time stood for fruits and, in all that concerns man’s 
power and material comfort and utility, it has as a mat- 
ter of fact been superlatively fruitful. But it has also 
professed to give the fruits of the spirit — for example, 
peace and brotherhood — and here its failure is so con- 
spicuous as to lead one to suspect some basic unsound- 

At this point the third saying of Jesus that I have 
quoted comes into play — the saying as to the impor- 
tance of building on the rock. The storm has come and 
it is not clear that our modem house is thus firmly 
established. The impression one has is rather that of 
an immense and ghttering superstructure on insecure 

The basis on which the whole structure of the new 
ethics has been reared is, as we have seen, the assump- 
tion that the significant struggle between good and evil 
is not in the individual but in society. If we wish once 
more to build securely, we may have to recover in some 
form the idea of “the civil war in the cave.” If one ad- 
mits this “war,” one may admit at the same time the 
need of the work of the spirit, if one is to bring forth the 
fruits of the spirit. If one denies this war, one transfers 
the work to the outer world or substitutes for it a sym- 
pathy that involves neither an inner nor an outer work- 
ing. A main problem of ethics, according to Cicero, is 


to prevent a divorce between the honorable (honestum) 
and the useful {utile). If these terms are not sophistL 
cated, he says, the honorable and the useful will be 
found to be identical. But such a sophistication has 
taken place as a result of the emphasis on an outer 
rather than on an inner working about which I have 
already had so much to say in this volume. The fruitful 
has thus come to be identified with the useful and finally 
(in a narrow and doctrinal sense) with the utilitarian. 
The whole problem has assumed a gravity that it did 
not have in the time of Cicero because of the way in 
which we have got ourselves implicated, by our one- 
sided pursuit of utility, in an immense mass of inter- 
locking machinery. 

One needs, however, if one is to recover a firm basis 
for the spiritual life, to get behind even the word work. 
The sophistication of this word would not have been 
possible had it not been for the previous sophistication 
of the word nature. This word should receive the first 
attention of any one who is seeking to defend on Socratic 
lines either humanistic or religious truth. Apply a suffi- 
ciently penetrating dialectic to the word nature, one is 
sometimes tempted to tliink, and the sophist will be put 
out of action at the start. The juggling with this word 
can be traced from the ancient Greek who said that the 
distinction between the honorable and the shameful has 
no root in nature, but is merely a matter of convention, 
to Renan who said that “nature does not care for 
chastity.” This juggling has always been the main 
source of an unsound individualism. The contrast 
between the natural and the artificial that has flourished 


since the eighteenth century and underlies the romantic 
movement is especially inadmissible. “Art,” as Burke 
says, “is man’s nature.” I have already referred to 
Diderot’s dismissal of the opposition between a law of 
the spirit and a law of the members as “artificial,” and 
have said that the proper reply to such sophistry is not 
to take refuge in theology, but to insist upon this oppo- 
sition as one of the “immediate data of consciousness”; 
that we shall thus get experimentally the basis we re- 
quire if we are to do the work of the spirit and bring 
forth its fruits. A confusion like that of Diderot is so 
serious that the defining of the one word “nature” 
would justify a dialectical battle along Socratic lines the 
like of which has never been seen in the history of the 
world. When it was over, the field of conflict would be 
covered thick with dead and dying reputations; for there 
can be no doubt that many of the leaders of the present 
time have fallen into the naturalistic error. 

On one’s definition of work, which itself depends on 
one’s definition of nature, will depend in turn one’s 
definition of liberty. One is free to work and not to 
idle. Only when liberty is properly defined according not 
merely to the degree, but to the quality of one’s working, 
is it possible to achieve a sound definition of justice (To 
every man according to his works). One’s definition of 
justice again will be found to involve one’s definition of 
peace in the secular order: for men can live at peace with 
one another only in so far as they are just. As for reli- 
gious peace, it is not subject to definition. In the scrip- 
tural phrase, it passeth understanding. 

Above all, if one is to achieve a sound philosophy of 


will, there must be no blurring of the distinction be- 
tween the spiritually inert and the spiritually energetic. 
The point is one that should be of special interest to 
Americans. The European has tended in his typical 
moments, and that from the time of the Greeks, to be an 
intellectual. There are signs, on the other hand, that if 
America ever achieves a philosophy of its own, it will be 
rather a philosophy of wiU. We have been called the 
people of action.” Under the circumstances it is a 
matter of some moment both for ourselves and for the 
rest of the world whether we are to be strenuous in a 
completely human or in a merely Rooseveltian sense. 

One may grant, indeed, that in a world like this the 
Rooseveltian imperialist is a safer guide than the Jeffer- 
sonian or Wilsonian “idealist.” But there is no reason 
why one should accept either horn of this dilemma. The 
most effective w'ay of dealing with the Jeffersonian 
idealism is to submit to a Socratic dialectic the theory 
of natural rights that underlies it. This theory rests on 
the sophistical contrast between the natural and the 
artificial of which I have just spoken, a contrast that 
encourages a total or partial suppression of the true 
dualism of the spirit and of the special quality of work- 
ing it involves. With this weakening of the inner life 
it becomes possible to assert a lazy or, what amounts to 
the same thing, an anarchical liberty. For true liberty 
is not liberty to do as one likes, but liberty to adjust 
oneself, in some sense of that word, to law. “The Abbd 
Coigniard,” says Anatole France, “would not have 
signed a line of the declaration of the rights of man be- 
cause of the excessive and unjust discrimination it 


establishes between man and the gorilla.” The true 
objection to the declaration of the rights of man is the 
exact opposite of the one stated by M. France: it does 
not establish a sufficiently wide gap between man and 
the gorilla. This gap can be maintained only if one in- 
sists that genuine liberty is the reward of ethical effort; 
it tends to disappear if one presents liberty as a free 
gift of “nature.” 

It may, indeed, be urged that the theory of natural 
rights, though false, may yet be justified as a “useful 
fiction,” that it has often shown itself an effective 
weapon of attack on the iniquities of the existing social 
order. One may doubt, however, the utility of the fic- 
tion, for what it tends to oppose to the existing order is 
not a better order but anarchy. No doubt the estab- 
lished order of any particular time and place that the 
partisan of “rights” would dismiss as conventional and 
artificial is, compared with true and perfect order, only 
a shadow; but such as it is, it cannot be lightly aban- 
doned in favor of some “ideal” that, when critically 
examined, may turn out to be only a mirage on the 
brink of a precipice. The “unwritten laws of heaven” * 
of which the great humanist Sophocles speaks are felt in. 
their relation to the written law, not as a right, but as a 
stricter obligation. 

The tendency of the doctrine of natural rights to 

* The passage of the Ardigom (w. 450 ff.) needs to be associ- 
ated with the passage of the (Edipm (w. 863 ff.) : "... laws that 
in the highest empyrean had their birth, of which Heaven is the 
father alone, neither did the race of mortal men beget them, nor 
shall oblivion ever put them to sleep. The power of God is mighty 
in them and groweth not old.” 


weaken the sense of obligation, and so to undermine 
genuine liberty, may be studied in connection with its 
influence on the common law which has prevailed among 
the English-speaking peoples. The spirit of this law at 
its best is that of a wholesome moral realism. Under the 
influence of the school of rights the equity that is often 
in conflict with strict law was more or less identified 
with a supposed law of “nature.” ^ This identification 
encouraged an unsound individualism. The proper 
remedy for an unsound individualism is a sound indi- 
vidualism, an individualism that starts, not from rights, 
but from duties. The actual reply to the unrestraint of 
the individual has been another doctrine of rights, the 
rights of society, which are sometimes conceived almost 
as metaphysically as the older doctrine of the rights of 
man. The representatives of this school of legal think- 
ing tend to identify equity with the principle of social 
utility. Judges have already appeared who have so 
solicited the strict letter of the law in favor of what they 
deemed to be socially expedient as to fall into a veri- 
table confusion of the legislative and judicial functions. 
Unfortimately those who represent society at any par- 
ticular moment and who are supposed to overflow with a 
will to service will be found by the realistic observer (in 
so far at least as they are mere humanitarian crusaders 
in whom there is no survival of the traditional controls) 

* See ch. IV (“The Rights of Man”) in The Spirit of the Conv- 
mon Law (1921), by Roscoe Pouad. Professor Pound is in sym- 
pathy with the second tendency to which I refer — the tendency 
towards what he terms the “socialization of justice.” His point of 
view is closely related to that of the German Jhering, who may 
himself be defined as a sort of coUectivistic Bentham. 


to be developing, under cover of their altruism, a will to 
power. On the pretext of social utility they are ready to 
deprive the individual of every last scrap and vestige of 
his freedom and finally to subject him to despotic outer 
control. No one, as Americans of the present day are 
only too well aware, is more reckless in his attacks on 
personal liberty than the apostle of “service.” He is 
prone in his furtherance of his schemes of “uplift” not 
only to ascribe unlimited sovereignty to society as 
against the individual, but to look on himself as endowed 
with a major portion of it, to develop a temper, in short, 
that is plainly tyrannical. 

We seem, indeed, to be witnessing in a different form 
the emergency faced by the early Christians. The time 
may come again, if indeed it has not come already, when 
men will be justified in asserting true freedom, even, it 
may be, at the cost of their lives, against the monstrous 
encroachments of the materialistic state.* The collectiv- 

* “ Individuals and families, associations and dependences were 
BO much material that the sovereign power consumed for its own 
purposes. What the slave was in the hands of his master, the 
citizen was in the hands of the community. The most sacred 
obligations vanished before the public advantage. The passen- 
gers existed for the sake of the ship. By their disregard for private 
interests, and for the moral welfare and improvement of the 
people, both Greece and Rome destroyed the vital elements on 
which the prosperity of nations rests, and perished by the decay 
of families and the depopulation of the country. They survive not 
in their institutions but in their ideas, and by their ideas, espe- 
cially on the art of government, they are — 

The dead, but sceptred sovereigus who still rule 

Our spirits from their urus. 

To them, indeed, may be tracked nearly all the errors that are 
undermining political society — communism, utilitarianism, the 


istic ideal suffers, often in an exaggerated form, from 
the underlying error of laisser faire against which it is so 
largely a protest. It does not reveal an adequate sense 
of the nature of obligation and of the special type of 
effort it imposes. As a result of its shallowness in dealing 
with the idea of work, it is in danger of substituting for 
real justice the phantasmagoria of social justice. Some 
of the inequalities that the collectivist attacks are no 
doubt the result of the unethical competition promoted 
by laisser faire. But the remedy for these inequalities 
is surely not the pursuit of such chimeras as social or 
economic equality, at the risk of sacrificing the one 
form of equality that is valuable — equality before the 

Equality as it is currently pursued is incompatible 
with true liberty; for liberty involves an inner working 
with reference to standards, the right subordination, in 
other words, of man’s ordinary will to a higher will. 
There is an inevitable clash, in short, between equality 
and humility. Historically humility has been secured 
more or less at the e.xpense of the intellect. I have my- 
self been trying to show that it is possible to defend 
humihty, and in general the truths of the inner life, by a 
critical method and in this sense to put Socrates in the 
service of Christ. The question of method is, in any 
case, all-important if one is to heal the feud between the 
head and the heart that has subsisted in the Occident 
in various forms from Grseco-Roman times. Intellect, 

confusion between tyranny and authority, and between lawless- 
ness and freedom.” (Lord Acton: History of Freedom and Other 
Essays, p. 17.) 


though finally subordinate to will, is indispensable in 
direct ratio to the completeness of one’s break with 
traditional standards. It is then needed to test from the 
point of view of reality the unity achieved by the 
imagination and so to supply new standards with 
reference to which the higher will may exercise its power 
of veto on the impulses and expansive desires. When 
will and intellect and imagination have been brought 
into right relation with one another, one arrives at last 
at the problem of the emotions, to which the Rousseau- 
ist, in his misplaced thirst of immediacy, gives the first 
place. To have standards means practically to select 
and reject; and this again means that one must disci- 
pline one’s feelings or affections, to use the older word, 
to some ethical centre. If the discipline is to be effective, 
so that a man will like and dislike the right things, it is 
as a rule necessary that it should become a matter of 
habit, and that almost from infancy. One cannot wait 
until the child has reached the so-called age of reason, 
until, in short, he is in a position to do his own selecting, 
for in the mean while he may have become the victim 
of bad habits. This is the true prison house that is in 
danger of closing on the growing boy. Habit must, 
therefore, as Aristotle says, precede reason. Certain 
other ideas closely connected with the idea of habit, 
need to receive attention at this point. The ethos of a 
community is derived in fact, as it is etymologically, 
from habit. If a community is to transmit certain habits 
to its young, it must normally come to some kind of 
agreement as to what habits are desirable; it must in the 
literal meaning of that word achieve a convention. 


Here is a chief difference between the true and the false 
liberal. It has been said of our modernists that they 
have only one convention and that is that there shall be 
no more conventions. An individualism that is thus 
purely temperamental is incompatible with the survival 
of civilization. What is civilized in most people is pre- 
cisely that part of them which is conventional. It is, to 
be sure, difficult to have a convention without falling 
into mere conventionalism, two things that the modern- 
ist confounds; but then everything that is worth while 
is difficult. 

The combining of convention with a due respect for 
the liberty of the individual involves, it must be ad- 
mitted, adjustments of the utmost delicacy. Two ex- 
tremes are about equally imdesirable: first, the conven- 
tion may be so rigid and minute as to leave little scope 
for the initiative of the individual. This formalistic 
extreme was reached, if Occidental opinion be correct, 
in the China of the past, and also in the older French 
convention that Rousseau attacked. At the opposite 
pole is the person who is spontaneous after the fashion 
encouraged by Rousseau and who, in getting rid of con- 
ventions, has also got rid of standards and abandoned 
himself to the mere flux of his impressions. The problem 
of standards would be simple if all we had to do was 
to oppose to this anarchical “liberty” a soimd set of 
general principles. But so far as actual conduct is con- 
cerned, life resolves itself into a series of particular 
emergencies, and it is not always easy to bridge the gap 
between these emergencies or concrete cases and the 
general principle. It has been held in the Occident, at 


least from the time of Aristotle, and in the Orient, at 
least from the time of Confucius, that one should be 
guided in one’s application of the general principle by 
the law of measure. The person who thus mediates suc- 
cessfully seems, in the phrase of Pascal, to combine in 
himself opposite virtues and to occupy aU the space 
between them. As a general principle, for example, 
courage is excellent, but unless it be tempered in the 
concrete instance by prudence, it will degenerate into 
rashness. According to Bossuet, “Good maxims pushed 
to an extreme are utterly ruinous.” (Les bonnes max- 
imes outries perdent tout.) But who is to decide what is 
the moderate and what the extreme application of a 
good maxim? The casuist or legalist would not only lay 
down the general principle, but try to deal exhaustively 
with all the cases that may arise in the application of 
it, in such wise as to deprive the individual, so far as 
possible, of his autonomy. The cases are, however, in- 
exhaustible, inasmuch as life is, in Bergson’s phrase, a 
perpetual gushing forth of novelties. A Jesuitical case- 
book or the equivalent is after all a clumsy substitute 
for the living intuition of the individual in determining 
the right balance to strike between the abiding prin- 
ciple and the novel emergency. While insisting, there- 
fore, on the need of a convention, one should strive to 
hold this convention flexibly, imaginatively, and, as it 
were, progressively. Without a convention of some kind 
it is hard to see how the experience of the past can be 
brought to bear on the present. The unconventional 
person is assuming that either he or his age is so unique 
that all this past experience has become obsolete. This 


very illusion has, to be sure, been fostered in many by 
the rapid advance of the physical sciences. 

So much experience has accumulated in both the East 
and the West that it should seem possible for those who 
are seeking to maintain standards and to fight an 
anarchical impressionism, to come together, not only as 
to their general principles, but as to the main cases that 
arise in the application of them. This convention, if it is 
to be effective, must, as I have already suggested, be 
transmitted in the form of habits to the young. This is 
only another way of saying that the civilization of a 
community and ultimately the government of which it 
is capable is closely related to the type of education on 
which it has agreed. (One should include in education 
the discipline that children receive in the family), “ The 
best laws,” says Aristotle, “will be of no avail unless the 
young are trained by habit and education in the spirit 
of the constitution.” ‘ Aristotle complains that this 
great principle was being violated in his time. Is it being 
observed in ours? It will be interesting in any case to 
make a specific application of the Aristotelian dictum 
to our American education in its relation to American 
government. Assuming that what we wish to preserve 
is a federal and constitutional democracy, are we train- 
ing up a class of leaders whose ethos is in intimate ac- 
cord with this type of government? The older type of 
American college reflected faithfully enough the con- 
vention of its time. The classical element in its curricu- 
lum was appropriately subordinated to the religious 
element, inasmuch as the leadership at which it aimed 
^ Politica, 1310a. Cf. also ibid., 1337a. 


was to be lodged primarily in the clergy. It would have 
been possible to interpret more vitally our older educa- 
tional convention, to give it the broadening it certainly 
needed and to adapt it to changed conditions. The 
new education (I am speaking, of course, of the main 
trend) can scarcely be said to have developed in this 
fashion from the old. It suggests rather a radical break 
with our traditional ethc^. The old education was, in 
intention at least, a training for wisdom and character. 
The new education has been summed up by President 
Eliot in the phrase: training for service and power. We 
are all coming together more and more in this idea of 
service. But, though service is suppl 3 dng us in a way 
with a convention, it is not, in either the humanistic or 
the religious sense, suppl 3 'ing us with standards. In the 
current sense of the word it tends rather to undermine 
standards, if it be true, as I have tried to show, that it 
involves an assumption hard to justify on strictly psy- 
chological grounds — the assumption that men can 
come together expansively and on the level of their 
ordinary selves. The older education was based on the 
belief that men need to be disciplined to some ethical 
centre. The sentimental humanitarian opposes to a 
definite curriculum which aims at some such humanistic 
or religious discipline the right of the individual to 
develop freely his bent or temperamental proclivity. 
The standard or common measure is compromised by 
the assertion of this supposed right, and in about the 
same measure the effort and spirit of emulation that the 
standard stimulates disappears. The veiy word curricu- 
lum implies a running together. Under the new educa- 


tional dispensation, students, instead of running to- 
gether, tend to lounge separately. Interest is transferred 
from the classroom to the athletic field, where there is a 
standard of a kind and, with reference to this standard, 
something that human nature craves — real victory or 
real defeat. The sentimentalist also plays into the hands 
of the utilitarian, who likewise sets up a standard with 
reference to which one may strive and achieve success or 
failure. Anything that thus has a definite aim tends to 
prevail over anything that, like a college of liberal arts 
under the elective system, is comparatively aimless. 
One cannot admit the argument sometimes heard that, 
because the older education had a definite end, it was 
therefore vocational in the same sense as the schools of 
business administration, for example, that have been 
developing so portentously of late in our educational 
centres. The older education aimed to produce leaders 
and, as it perceived, the basis of leadership is not com- 
mercial or industrial efficiency, but wisdom. Those who 
have been substituting the cult of efficiency for the older 
liberal training are, of course, profuse in their profes- 
sions of service either to country or to mankind at 
large. The question I have been raising throughout this 
volume, however, is whether anything so purely ex- 
pansive as service, in the humanitarian sense, can sup- 
ply an adequate counterpoise to the pursuit of unethical 
power, whether the proper counterpoise is not to be 
sought rather ia the cultivation of the principle of vital 
control, first of all in the individual and finally in the 

I have said that one’s attitude towards the principle 


of control will determine one’s definition of liberty, and 
that the Jeffersonians inclining, as they did, to the new 
myth of man’s natural goodness, looked askance, not 
merely at the traditional restraints, but at everything 
that interfered with a purely expansive freedom. 
Jefferson himself saw to some extent the implications of 
his general position for education in particular. He is, 
for example, one of the authentic precursors of the elec- 
tive system.* The education that the Jeffersonian liberty 
has tended to supplant set up a standard that limited 
the supposed right of the individual to self-expression as 
well as the inbreeding of special aptitudes in the inter- 
ests of efficiency; it was not, in short, either sentimental 
or utilitarian. There is a real relation between the older 
educational standard that thus acted restrictively on 
the mere temperament of the individual and the older 
political standard embodied in institutions like the Con- 
stitution, Senate, and Supreme Court, that serve as a 
check on the ordinary or impulsive will of the people. 
It follows from all I have said that the new education 
does not meet the Aristotelian requirement: it is not in 
intimate correspondence with our form of government. 
If the veto power disappears from our education there 
is no reason to anticipate that it will long suiwive in the 
State. The spirit of the leaders will not be that which 
should preside over a constitutional democracy. 

* See Herbert B. Adams: Thomas Jefferson and the University 
of Virginia (18S8), especially ch. ix (“The University of Vir- 
ginia and Harvard College”). Cf. also letter of Jefferson to 
George Ticknor, 16 July, 1823. Superficially, Jefferson was 
friendly to classical study; his underlying philosophical tendency 
(of which his encyclopaedic inclusiveness and encouragement of 
specialization are only symptoms) was unfavorable to it. 


The best of our elder statesmen, though they opposed 
a standard to the mere flux of popular impulse and made 
sure that the standard was appropriately embodied in 
institutions, did not associate their standard with any 
theory of the absolute. Herein they showed their sa- 
gacity. One cannot separate too carefully the cause of 
standards from that of the absolute. Standards are a 
matter of observation and common sense, the absolute 
is only a metaphysical conceit. In political thinking this 
conceit has led to various theories of unlimited sover- 
eignty. Judged by their fruits all these theories are, 
according to John Adams, “equally arbitrary, cruel, 
bloody, and in every respect diabolical.” They can be 
shown, at all events, to be hard to reconcile with a 
proper respect for personal liberty.^ It is a fortunate 
circumstance that the very word sovereignty does not 
occur in our Constitution. The men who made this Con- 
stitution were for granting a certain limited power here 
and another limited power somewhere else, and abso- 
lute power nowhere. The best scheme of government 
they conceived to be a system of checks and balances. 
They did not, however, look on the partial powers they 
bestowed as being on the same level. They were aware 
that true liberty requires a hierarchy and a subordina- 
tion, that there must be something central in a state to 
which final appeal may be made in case of conflict. The 
complaint has, indeed, been made that they left certain 
ambiguities in the articles of union that had finally to 
be clarified on the battle-field. If they had been more 
explicit, however, it is not probable that they would 
‘ See Appendix B. 


have been able to establish a union at all. They were 
confronted with the difficult task of gaining recognition 
for the centripetal element in government in the face 
of the most centrifugal doctrine the world has ever 
known — the doctrine that encourages men to put their 
rights before their duties. 

John Marshall deserves special praise for the clearness 
with which he saw that the final centre of control in the 
type of government that was being founded, if control 
was to have an ethical basis and not be another name 
for force, must be vested in the judiciary, particularly 
in the Supreme Court. This court, especially in its most 
important function, that of interpreting the Constitu- 
tion, must, he perceived, embody more than any other 
institution the higher or permanent self of the State. 
With a sound and independent judiciary, above all with 
a sound and independent supreme bench, liberty and 
democracy may after all be able to coexist. Many people 
are aware that personal liberty and the security of pri- 
vate property, which is almost inseparable from it, are 
closely bound up with the fortunes of the Supreme 
Court. Their ideas are, however, often vague as to the 
nature of the menace that overhangs our highest tribu- 
nal. We are familiar with the rant of Gompers and his 
kind against the courts; we also know what to expect 
from the radical press. We are not surprised, for exam- 
ple, when a socialistic periodical, published at Girard, 
Kansas, devotes a special issue of five million copies to 
an assault on the federal judiciary. A menace that is 
perhaps more serious than this open hostility may be 
defined as a sort of “boring from within.” This phrase 


seems to fit the professors in our law schools who are 
departing from the traditional standards of the law in 
favor of “social justice.” Social justice, it is well to 
remind these “forward-looking” professors, means in 
practice class justice, class justice means class war and 
class war, if we are to go by all the experience of the past 
and present, means hell. 

The inadequacy of social justice with its tendency to 
undermine the moral responsibility of the individual and 
at the same time to obscure the need of standards and 
leadership may be made clearer if we consider for a mo- 
ment the problem of government with the utmost degree 
of realism. Thus considered, government is power. 
Whether the power is to be ethical or unethical, whether 
in other words it is subordinated to true justice, must 
depend finally on the quality of will displayed by the 
men who administer it. For what counts practically is 
not justice in the abstract, but the just man. The just 
man is he whose various capacities (including the intel- 
lect) are acting in right relation to one another under the 
hegemony of the higher will. We are brought back here 
to the problem of the remnant. Those who strive for the 
inner proportion that is reflected in the outer world aa 
justice have always been few. The remark of Aristotle 
that “most men would rather live in a disorderly than 
in a sober manner” remains true, at least in the subtler 
psychie sense. Though one agree with Aristotle as to the 
ethical unsoundness of the majority, it does not follow 
that the ethical State is impossible. Hmnan nature, and 
this is its most encouraging trait, is sensitive to a right 
example. It is hard, indeed, to set bounds to the persua- 


siveness of a right example, provided only it be right 
enough. The ethical State is possible in which an im- 
portant minority is ethically energetic and is thus be- 
coming at once just and exemplary. Such a minority 
will also tend to solve the problem of union. The soul of 
the unjust man is, according to Aristotle, tom by every 
manner of faction.^ The just man, on the contrary, is he 
who, as the result of his moral choices based on due 
deliberation, choices in which he is moved primarily by 
a regard for his own happiness, has quelled the unruly 
impulses of his lower nature and so attained to some 
degree of unity with himself. At the same time he will 
find that he is moving towards a common centre with 
others who have been carrying through a similar task of 
self-conquest. A State that is controlled by men who 
have become just as the result of minding their own busi- 
ness in the Platonic sense will be a just State that will 
also mind its own business; it will be of service to other 
States, not by meddling in their affairs on either com- 
mercial or “idealistic” grounds, but by setting them a 
good example. A State of this kind may hope to find a 
basis of understanding with any other State that is also 
ethically controlled. The hope of cooperation with a 
State that has an unethical leadership is chimerical. 
The value of political thinking is therefore in direct 
ratio to its adequacy in dealing with the problem of 
leadership. The unit to which all things must finally be 
referred is not the State or humanity or any other ab- 
straction, but the man of character. Compared with this 

‘ Eih. Nie. 1166b. 


ultimate human reality, every other reality is only a 
shadow in the mist.‘ 

It follows from what I have said that ethical union, 
whether in the single man or among different men or on 
the national or international scale, is attainable so far as 
it is attainable at all, not by expansive emotion nor by 
any form of machinery or organization (in the current 
sense of the word), but only by the pathway of the inner 
life. Some persons will remain spiritually anarchical in 
spite of educational opportunity, others will acquire at 
least the rudiments of ethical discipline, whereas still 
others, a small minority, if we are to judge by past ex- 
perience, will show themselves capable of the more diffi- 
cult stages of self-conquest that will fit them for leader- 
ship. Our traditional education with all its defects did 
something to produce leaders of this ethical type, whereas 
the utilitarian-sentimental education which has been 
tending to supplant it is, as I have been trying to show, 
lacking in the essentials of the inner life and so is not 
hkely to produce either religious or humanistic leaders. 
Most Americans of the present day will, indeed, feel that 
they have refuted sufficiently all that I have said, if they 
simply utter the word “service.” One may suspect, 
however, that the popularity of the gospel of service is 
due to the fact that it is flattering to unregenerate hu- 
man nature. It is pleasant to think that one may dis- 
pense with awe and reverence and the inner obeisance of 

' Cf. Confucius: “The moral man, by living a life of simple 
truth and earnestness, alone can help to bring peace and order in 
the world.” “When the men are there, good government will 
flourish, but when the men are gone, good government decays 
and becomes extinct.” 


the spirit to standards, provided one be eager to do 
something for humanity. “The highest worship of 
God,” as Benjamin Franklin assures us blandly, “is 
service to man.” If it can be shown experimentally — 
and a certain amount of evidence on this point has ac- 
cumulated since the time of Franklin — that service in 
this sense is not enough to chain up the naked lusts of 
the human heart, one must conclude that the supreme!' 
exemplar of American shrewdness and practicality did 
not, in the utterance I have just cited, show himself suf- 
ficiently shrewd and practical. The gospel of service is 
at all events going to receive a thorough trial, if nowhere 
else, then in America. We are rapidly becoming a na- 
tion of humanitarian crusaders. The present reign of 
legalism is the most palpable outcome of this crusading. 
It is growing only too evident, however, that the drift 
towards license is being accelerated rather than arrested 
by the multiplication of laws. If we do not develop a 
sounder type of vision than that of our “uplifters” and 
“forward-lookers,” the history of free institutions in this 
country is likely to be short, and, on the whole, discred- 
itable. Surely the first step is to perceive that the alter- 
native to a constitutional liberty is not a legalistic mil- 
lennium, but a triumph of anarchy followed by a tri- 
umph of force. The time may come, with the growth of 
a false liberalism, when a predominant element in our 
population, having grown more and more impatient of 
the ballot box and representative government, of con- 
stitutional limitations and judicial control, will display 
a growing eagerness for “direct action.” This is the 
propitious moment for the imperialistic leader. Though 


the triiimph of any t3rpe of imperialistic leader is a 
disaster, especially in a country like our own that has 
known the blessings of liberty under the law, neverthe- 
less there is a choice even here. Circumstances may arise 
when we may esteem ourselves fortunate if we get the 
American equivalent of a Mussolini; he may be needed 
to save us from the American equivalent of a Lenin. 
Such an emergency is not to be anticipated, however, 
unless we drift even further than we have thus far from 
the principles that underlie our unionist tradition. The 
maintenance of this tradition is indissolubly bound up 
with the maintenance of standards. The democratic 
contention that everybody should have a chance is ex- 
cellent provided it mean that everybody is to have a 
chance to measure up to high standards. If the demo- 
cratic extension of opportunity is, on the other hand, 
made a pretext for lowering standards, democracy is, in 
so far, incompatible with civilization. One might be 
more confident of the outcome of the struggle between a 
true and a false liberalism that has been under way since 
the founding of the Republic, if the problem of stand- 
ards was being dealt with more adequately in our 
education, above all in our higher education. The tend- 
ency here, however, is, as I have noted, to discard 
standards in favor of “ideals"; and ideals, as currently 
understood, recognize veiy imperfectly, if at all, that 
man needs to be disciplined to a law of his own, dis- 
tinct from the law of physical nature. One might 
view this idealistic development with more equanim- 
ity if one were convinced with Professor John Dewey 
that the growing child exudes spontaneously a will to 


service.* If we look, however, on this form of sponta- 
neity as a romantic myth, we shall be forced to conclude 
that we have been permitting Professor Dewey and his 
kind to have an influence on our education that amounts 
in the aggregate to a national calamity; that with the 
progress of ideals of this ki nd our higher education in 
particular is, from the point of view of a genuinely lib- 
eral training, in danger of becoming a vast whir of ma- 
chinery in the void; finally, that, in the interest of our 
experiment in free institutions, we need educational 
leaders who will have less to say of service and more 
to say of culture and civilization, and who will so use 
these words as to show that they have some inkling of 
their true meaning. 

This book has been written to no purpose unless I 
have made plain that the problem of standards and 
leadership is by no means merely American. The Amer- 
ican situation can be imderstood only with reference 
to the larger background — the slow yielding in the 
whole of the Occident of traditional standards, human- 
istic and religious, to naturalism. I have defined in its 
main aspects the movement that has supervened upon 
this emancipation from the past as Baconian, Rous- 
seauistic, and Machiavellian; in other words, as utili- 
tarian, sentimental, and imperialistic. The individualist 
should, however, make a better use of his liberty; the 
less traditional he becomes, the more he should strive to 
get at standards positively and critically. The result of 

* See his Moral Principles in Education, p. 22; “The child is 
born with a natural desire to give out, to do, to serve." (My 


such a striving would, I have tried to show, be a move- 
ment that might be best defined as Socratic, Aristo- 
telian, and Christian, that would, in short, put prime 
emphasis in its different stages on definition, habit, and 
hmniUty. What has actually been witnessed in the Oc- 
cident, as a result of the failure to work out critical 
equivalents of traditional standards, has been a series 
of violent oscillations between a humanitarian idealism 
and a Machiavellian realism. Humanitarian idealism 
is still firmly entrenched in this country, especially in 
academic circles, where it seems to be held more confi- 
dently, one is almost tempted to say more smugly, with 
each succeeding year, Europeans, on the other hand, 
have suffered certain essential disillusions. It is becom- 
ing increasingly difficult for them to believe that the 
idealists have discovered any effective counterpoise to 
the push for power. “We are much beholden,” says 
Bacon, “to Machiavel and others that wrote what men 
do, and not what they ought to do.” The gap between 
what men do and what they ought to do is turning out 
to be even wider under the humanitarian dispensation 
than under that of mediaeval Christianity. 

Yet the Machiavellian solution is in itself impossible. 
If the Occident does not get beyond this type of realism, 
it will simply reenact all the pagan stupidities and has- 
ten once more to the pagan doom. Moreover, the latter 
stages of the naturalistic dissolution of civilization with 
which we are menaced are, thanks to scientific “prog- 
ress,” likely to be marked by incidents of almost incon- 
ceivable hoiTor. The danger of power without wisdom, 
of a constantly increasing material organization com- 


bined with an ever-growing spiritual anarchy, is already 
so manifest that unless there is a serious search for a 
remedy we may conclude that the instinct for self- 
preservation that is supposed to inhere in mankind is a 
myth. Surely the first step will be to put in his proper 
subordinate place the man of science with his poison 
gases * and high explosives, and that without a particle 
of obscurantism. The tendency of physical science to 
bring the whole of human nature under a single law can 
be shown to be at the bottom of some of the most dan- 
gerous fallacies of the present time — for example, the 
socialistic dream of “scientific” politics. “Thus the 
whole of society,” says Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald, “its 
organization, its institutions, its activities, is brought 
within the sway of natural law, not merely on its de- 
scriptive and historical side, but on its experimental 
side, and administration and legislation become arts 
pursued in the same way as the chemist works in his 
laboratory.” ^ The man of science is flattered in the 
conceit of his own importance by this inordinate exalta- 
tion of the “law for thing.” Yet he should, in the in- 
terest of science itself, reject the whole point of view as 
pseudo-scientific; for science needs the support of civil- 
ization and the chief force that is now making against 
civilization is, next perhaps to emotional unrestraint, 

Mr. MacDonald and his kind almost invariably look 

* The statement has been made by those who should be in a 
position to know that poison gases have recently been invented 
at least a thousand times more deadly than any employed during 
the war. 

• The Socialist Movement, p. 90. 


upon themselves as "idealists.” This should serve to 
remind us that the terms idealism and reahsm as now 
employed, however much they may clash superficially, 
have at least this much in common; they are both rooted 
in a naturalistic philosophy. Any one who transcends 
this philosophy ceases in about the same measure to be 
either a humanitarian idealist or a Machiavellian realist. 
He becomes aware of a quality of will that distinguishes 
man from physical nature and is yet natiural in the sense 
that it is a matter of immediate perception and not of 
outer authority. I have said that the neglect of this 
quahty of will by both utilitarians and sentimentalists 
has encouraged a sophistical definition of hberty; that 
this type of hberty has owed its appeal to its flattery 
of spiritual indolence, perhaps the most fundamental 
human trait that is open to direct observation. Any one 
who has once perceived this trait in himself and others, 
and followed it out in even a few of its almost innumer- 
able ramifications, will be in no danger of overlooking 
the old Adam after the fashion of the “ideahsts.” The 
insistence on the putting aside of spiritual indolence and 
the exercise of the higher will is found in every genuinely 
spiritual doctrine, above all in genuine Christianity. 
Traditionally the Christian has associated his hberty and 
his faith in a higher will with grace. “Where the Spirit 
of the Lord is, there is hberty.” I myself have been 
trying to come at this necessary truth, not in terms of 
grace, but in terms of work, and that on the humanistic 
rather than on the rehgious level. I am not so arrogant 
as to deny the vahdity of other ways of affir ming the 
higher will, or to dismiss as obsolete the traditional forms 


through which this will has been interpreted to the 
imagination. I am attempting a contribution, I cannot 
remind the reader too often, to a specific problem — to 
the distinction, namely, between a sound and an un- 
sound individualism. My argument should appeal 
primarily, so far as it appeals to any one, to those who, 
as a result of having broken with the traditional forms 
on groimds insufficiently critical, axe in danger of losing 
the truths of the higher will entirely; who are mere 
modernists at a time when there is a supreme need of 
thoroughgoing and complete moderns. 

TB£ £ND 



I APPEND with some hesitation a few notes on the more tech- 
nical aspects of a question the proper treatment of which 
would require a volume. The whole problem of the will is 
inextricably bound up with that of dualism. The true dual- 
ism I take to be the contrast in man between two wills, one of 
which is felt as vital impulse (6lan vital) and the other as vital 
control (frein vital). The crucial point would seem to be the 
proper place of intellect in its relation to the higher will. It is 
hard, on the one hand, to be reasonable without becoming 
rationalistic, and, on the other, to have faith without falling 
into credulity. The Christian form of the difficulty grew up in 
connection with the Pauline opposition between a law of the 
spirit and a law of the members; if the law of the spirit is 
to exercise its control effectually, it needs, according to the 
Christian, a greater or lesser degree of divine cooperation. 
So that if one wishes to get at a Christian’s views of man’s will 
the best method is frequently to ascertain his views of God’s 

One of the first to proclaim the superiority of the divine will 
over the divine mind was Origen. The most important of 
Christian voluntarists is, however. Saint Augustine. He as- 
serts the primacy of will in both man and God and on psycho- 
logical as well as on theological grounds. One of the argu- 
ments that he employs was influential on later voluntarists like 
Duns Scotus.i Will, says Augustine, reveals itself above all in 
the act of attention or concentration; it therefore takes preced- 
ence of intellect because it selects the field of facts or order of 

* The work of Wilhelm Kahl, Die Lehre vom Primal des Willens bei 
Auvustinus, Dune Scotue UTid Descartee, ia a useful repertory of mate- 
rial for the whole subject. 



perceptions to which the intellect attends and of which it 
acquires knowledge.^ 

With the influence of Aristotle from the latter part of the 
twelfth century on, there was a tendency to revert to Greek 
intellectualism and to reverse the Augustinian position in 
regard to will. Saint Thomas Aquinas, for example, not only 
grants a superior dignity to man’s intellect as compared with 
his will,® but holds that the divine will is subordinate to the 
divine wisdom. It is hardly necessary to add that Saint Thomas 
is far from being a pure rationalist: man’s intellect, though su- 
perior to his'will, is infi.nitely transcended by the divine will. 

To be sure the working of God’s will as it had been aflirmed 
traditionally with the support of Revelation had been felt from 
the outset, especially in connection with the more extreme 
forms of the doctrine of grace, to be a stumbling block to 
man’s reason. The central preoccupation of the scholastic 
philosophy may indeed be said to have been the reconciliation 
of faith in this sense with reason.* This great effort culminated 
in Saint Thomas in whose system reason and faith seem to 
cooperate harmoniously. Theological truth, he maintained, 
though beyond reason, is not contrary to it. 

The outstanding trait of the later scholasticism is the tend- 
ency of reason and faith once more to separate and to appear 
as irreconcilable. The “realist,” Duns Scotus, develops the 
thesis that “ will is superior to intellect” * {Voluntas est superior 

* See his De Trinitate for this and other subtle psychological ob- 
servations on the will. 

® P. H. Wicksteed has collected passages from Saint Thomas in 
illustration of the relation between intellect and will in his Reactions 
between Dogma and Philosophy, pp. 682-620. 

s For this struggle between faith and reason during the scholastic 
period see La Philosophic ou moyen dpc, par E. Gilson (the point of 
view is on the whole that of a scientific intellectual) ; also History o] 
Mediceeal Philosophy, by M. de Wulf (the point of view is Catholic). 

‘ According to M. Gilson (op. dt., ii, pp. 83-84), " Duns Scot reven- 
dique les droits du Dieu chrfetien et les defend instinctivement centre 
la contamination de la pens^e hellfinique.” In view of Arabian influ- 
ence on Duns Scotus, one may perhaps go further and say that in his 
treatment of the will an Asiatic is arrayed against a European psy- 



intelleclu) in both man and God. The nominalist, William of 
Occam, afiSrms in a still more uncompromising fashion that 
God’s will is absolute and arbitrary. God does not will a thin g 
because it is just, but it is just because he wills it. Theology 
may not hope to find support in reason. It must be accepted 
on the authority of Revelation and the Church. 

This last stage of scholasticism is the point of departure for 
various movements that seem at first sight to have very little 
in common — for example, Lutheranism and Jansenism as 
well as the philosophies of Bacon and Descartes. The Jansen- 
ist and Lutheran exalt God’s will at the expense of reason by 
an extreme interpretation of grace. Descartes and Bacon, on 
the other hand, are interested, though in very different ways, 
in the use that may be made of reason in the natural order. 
They continue to pay more or less sincere homage to religion 
conceived as indissolubly bound up with incomprehensible the- 
ological mysteries. It is especially important to ascertain 
Descartes’s conception of the will in view of his position as the 
father of modern philosophy. We need to discriminate sharply 
between his conceptions of man’s will and God’s will. God’s 
will he holds to be absolute and arbitrary and to this extent he 
reminds us of Duns Scotus.* His ultimate temper, however, is 
not that of the Christian voluntarist, inasmuch as he is inter- 
ested above all in working out a mechanical law for phenome- 
nal nature. His attitude towards God’s will is to be explained 
in two ways: first by his extreme caution, not to say timidity; 
with the fate of Galileo fresh in mind he was almost morbidly 
apprehensive of becoming embroiled with the theologians. He 
was moved in the second place, according to M. Gilson,® by 
the desire to get rid of final causes in the interest of his own 
mechanistic hypothesis. 

According to Descartes himself what he meant by his 
Cogito ergo sum was that one should start from the immediate 

> M. Gilson, however, disagrees with Kahl as to the nearness of 
Descartes’s conception of the divine will to that of Duns Scotus. See 
his work. La Doctrine cartisienne de la libertS et la (hiologie, pp. 128-49. 

s Op. cit., cb. in; also p. 210. 



data of consciousness.^ Practically he relegates the higher will 
to God (as understood by the theologians) and gives the first 
place among these data to mind or reason. He proceeds to set 
up a sharp dualism between mind and matter conceived as 
separate substances. As for man’s will, it is according to 
Descartes in itself infinite and to that extent reminds us of the 
divine will.^ On closer scrutiny, however, this infinite liberty 
of the will turns out to be only a liberty to err. The will 
escapes from error only in so far as it is determined by reason.* 
In his tendency thus to make right will depend upon right 
reason, as weU as in his practical ethics, ‘ Descartes reminds us 
strongly of the Stoics. 

By “reason,” it is scarcely necessary to add, Descartes means 
logical and mathematical reason. The only ideas that should 
determine the will and that one can follow without danger 
of error are clear and distinct ideas. No tendency is more 
marked in the Cartesian system than to conceive as it were 
mathematically of the truth and reality of both the human 
and the natural order. An extreme example of the same tend- 
ency is the geometrical form that Spinoza gives to his “Eth- 
ics.” Descartes would make of God himself a “clear” idea 
and demonstrate him in almost geometrical fashion.* He thus 
contradicts the universal experience of mankind which is that 
the truths on which the inner life depends are not clear in the 
logical or any other sense. These truths are rather a matter of 
elusive intuition. 

Perhaps the first person to assert intuition against the ab- 
stract reasoning of Descartes was Pascal. A whole order of 
truths, to employ Pascal’s own distinction, can be attained, not 
by V esprit de giomUrie, but only by V esprit de finesse. To the 
rationalistic God of Descartes he opposes Dieu sensible au 
coeur. “Heart” means practically “grace,” and grace Pascal 

* Prineipes de la philosophie, livre I, 9. 

* Meditations m&aphysigues, n {Du vrai c( flu faux). * Ibid. 

* See especially his Letlres A la princesse Elizabeth. 

* “. . . par consequent il est pour le moins ausd certain que Dieu 
. . . est ou existe, qu’aucune demonstration de geometiie le saurait 
etre.” {Diacoura de la M&kode.) 



associates with what was rapidly becoming an impossible the- 
ology. What is conspicuous indeed in the whole transition 
from the mediaeval to the modem period is the failure to dis- 
engage the truths of the higher will from theology and to deal 
with them experimentally as “immediate data of conscious- 
ness.” On the contrary, as the result of the endless disputes of 
Jansenists with Jesuits, of Catholics with Protestants, and of 
the various Protestant sects with one another, these truths 
became involved in a mass of almost incredible theological 
subtleties. The final reply to these subtleties was Voltaire. 
Especially significant is his article “GrAce” in the “Diction- 
naire phUosophique,” the third section of which concludes as 
follows: “Ah! supralapsaires, infralapsaires, gratuits, suf- 
fisants, efficaciens, jans^nistes, molinistes, devenez enfin 
hommes et ne troublez plus la terre pour des sottises si absurdes 
et si abominables.” 

With the virtual substitution by Descartes of “reason” for 
what is truly transcendent in man, namely the higher will, the 
genuine dualism is compromised and the way opened for 
monistic developments. The tendency towards a rationalistic 
pantheism is manifest in Spinoza who reveals in many respects 
the Cartesian influence. Spinoza inclines to get rid of the 
Cartesian dualism between mind and matter by denying to 
mind any superiority of substance.* Man is in nature not as 
one empire in another empire but as a part in a whole. Man 
must adjust his will to the divine will, to be sure, but God is 
declared to be the same as “nature.” When one has made an 
identification of this kind, it will not be possible by any num- 
ber of subsidiary distinctions — for example, by setting up a 
sort of dualism in the cosmic process itself in the form of a 
nalura naturans and a naluranatwrcUa — to maintain a sound 
doctrine of the will and to avoid pantheistic confusion. The 
God or “nature” to which Spinoza would have man conform 
his will is closely related to reason of a distinctly Cartesian 
t3Te; so that to adjust one’s will to God or nature is equivalent 

* See Ethics, u. Prop. 7, acholium. 



to adjusting it to reason. Reason and will are indeed for 
Spinoza identical. ^ Here as elsewhere Spinoza re\ives more 
completely perhaps than any other modem philosopher of the 
first rank the Stoical position. 

Quite apart horn Spinoza the followers of Descartes ® tended 
to suppress the dualism between mind and matter in favor of 
universal mechanism. Descartes himself had seen in animals 
only automata; the temptation proved irresistible to look on 
man in the same way.* A parallel tendency was that of the 
English empiricists and utilitarians to deny that mind is tran- 
scendent, to assert that there is “nothing in the intellect that 
was not previously in the senses.” At the same time they fail 
to recognize a quality of will in man that sets him above the 
natural order and so incline strongly towards a naturalistic 
determinism. The denial of the freedom of the will is especially 
complete in Hobbes and Hume.* Philosophy in its main trend 
from Descartes to Hume seemed to exalt analysis at the ex- 
pense of synthesis and to be ready to sacrifice spontaneity to 
mechanism. Of the world as envisaged by Hume in particular 
one might say with Mephistopheles: “Fehlt leider! nur das 
geistige Band ! ” Among those who sought to restore unity and 
freedom to philosophy, the most important is Immanuel Kant. 
In the matter of the will, he asserts that in the “noumenal” 
realm, the realm of the "thing-in-itself,” man is perfectly free; 
as a phenomenon among other phenomena, on the contrary, 

^ “Voluntas et intellectus unum et idem sunt.’* (EthieSt n, Prop. 
49, corollary). In Ethics, in, Prop. 9, scholium, a different view of the 
will appears; it is there identified with impulse, possibly, as has been 
conjectured, under the influence of Hobbes, 

* I am dealing with the main influence. Certain Cartesians like 
Geulincx developed in connection with the doctrine known as “Occa- 
sionaliBrn” a sense of man's dependence on the divine will that re- 
minds one of mediseval humility. 

3 La Mettrie, a disciple of the Cartesian Boerhaave, published 
VHormne-machine in 1747. 

* See Free Will and Four English PkUodophers (Hobbes, Locked 
Hume and Mill), by the Reverend Joseph Rickaby, S. J. Father 
Rickaby is of course a traditionalist, but makes remarks (see, for ex- 
ample, p. 205) that are decidedly perspicacious even from a strictly 
psychological point of view. 



man is, he admits, as thoroughly determined as Hume had 
maintained. The question arises as to the value of this purely 
“noumenal” liberty in the actual emergencies of life. Huxley 
remarks apropos of this Kantian conception of the will: 
“Metaphysicians, as a rule, are sadly deficient in the sense of 
humor; or they would surely abstain from advancing proposi- 
tions which, when stripped of the verbiage in which they are 
disguised, appear to the profane eye to be bare shams, naked 
but not ashamed.” ’ The professional metaphysician often be- 
trays an even more serious lack than that of a sense of humor 
— a lack, namely, of common sense. This lack appears in 
Huxley’s own attitude towards the will when compared, let us 
say, with that of Dr. Johnson. 

Kant’s views regarding the “categorical imperative,” as ex- 
pounded in his “ Critique of Practical Reason,” seem especially 
open to objection from the point of view of common sense. 
The categorical imperative is conceived as something a priori, 
not as based on experience. It is not a living intuition of a will 
that is set above the cosmic process (which includes a man’s 
natural self) and that acts upon this cosmic process restric-' 
tively and selectively. It is rather a rigid metaphysical abstrac- 
tion that operates without reference to the happiness of the 
individual * or the special circumstances to which he needs to 
adjust himself.’ Moreover, it is, as I have pointed out (p. 
226), a will to act and not a will to refrain from acting. One 
may therefore raise the question whether it can be counted on 
to quell effectually the expansive “lusts” of the natural man 

’ See his Hume, ch. x (end). 

2 Schiller wrote satirically of the categorical imperative from this 
point of view in his poem Die Philoaophen (v. 35 ff.). Elsewhere (Werke, 
Goedeke Ed., x, p.lOl) he opposes to what seems to him the “Draco- 
nian ” severity of the Kantian reason, the point of view of the “beauti- 
ful soul.” Kant himself tended at the outset to base ethics on feeling. 
About 1770, however, he repudiated Shaftesbury and his followers on 
the ground that they were guilty of Epicureanism. 

3 Jacobi has this aspect of the categorical imi)erntive in mind when 
he exclaims: “Yes, I am that atheist and godless man who will lie aa 
dying Desdemona lied; will lie and deceive as Pylades did when he 
feigned to be Orestes, will murder as Timoleon did, etc,” 



— for example, the lust of domination. As an expression of 
cosmic reason, the categorical imperative reminds one of the 
reason-will of the Stoics. The reason, however, that the Stoic 
took as his guiding principle (to ^i/jLoviKov) was conceived as 
one with reality; whereas the conclusions of the “Critique of 
Pure Reason,” so far as the relation between reason and reality 
is concerned, are largely sceptical. Kant therefore asks us to 
make certain important affirmations, not as necessarily true in 
themselves, but as postulates of the practical reason. He thus 
prepares the way for the Phihsophie des Ak Ob of Vaihinger. 
According to Vaihinger, you do not will a thing because it is 
true; you merely act as if it were true on the ground that it is a 
“useful fiction.” ^ The “As-if” philosophy, again, is akin to the 
point of view of the pragmatist. The pragmatist does not con- 
ceive of truth as something that already exists: he makes his 
truth as he goes along, in other words he takes that to be true 
which seems useful or agreeable to his ordinary self. He thus 
tends to eliminate both the high impersonal standard and the 
ethical will that, with reference to this standard, opposes 
bounds to the expansive desires. 

Though the philosophy of Kant supplies the freedom and 
the synthetic element that were absent from a philosophy like 
that of Hume, it supplies them in an abstract and rationalistic 
way. It does not satisfy the craving for immediacy. Those 
who felt this craving sought to gratify it by basing ethics on 
the emotions. Kant’s “ Critique of Practical Reason” suggests 
that the ultimate reality, the “thing-in-itself,” is very closely 
related to will. Schopenhauer actually pushes on to the identi- 
fication of reality and will. Only the will that he sets up is very 
different from the categorical imperative.^ It is a cosmic will 

* Cf. p. 225. See also Roueaeau and Romanticism, p. 370 n., where 
I touch on the philosophy of Vaihinger in its relation to the problem 
of the imagination. 

2 For Schopenhauer’s attack on the categorical imperative see the 
first nine sections of his Grundlage der moral. The reconciliation of 
liberty with necessity that Huxley ridicules seems to Schopenhauer, 
however, to be, along with his "transcendental resthetics,” Kant’s 
most distinguished achievement. 



conceived as a will to live and at the same time as the source of 
evil. Schopenhauer does not oppose to this cosmic a 
higher will that may control it and even renounce it ; if ho had 
he might have achieved a true dualism. Instead he affirms 
expressly that the will, as he understands it, should include 
only that w'hich is common to man and beast.* He hopes to 
get the equivalent of a true dualism by a recourse to the benev- 
olent theory of ethics, especially, as we have seen (p. 73), to 
Rousseau’s doctrine of natural pity. At the same time Scho- 
penhauer inclines on occasion to see in actual nature not pity 
but ruthless struggle, thus anticipating Darwin. Nietzsche 
follows Schopenhauer in according the primacy to will but 
denies natural pity and affirms that the will that is funda- 
mental in man is the will to power. He is thus related, on the 
one hand, to Hobbes and the Machiavellians, and, on the other, 
to the evolutionists. 

One should note that those who gratify their thirst for im- 
mediacy by basing ethics on instinct or impulse, whether they 
conceive of the resulting “will” as a will to brotherhood or a 
will to power, agree in denying that the element of inhibition 
is primary or vital; they dismiss everything that interferes 
with the free expansion of “will” as artificial or conventional. 
Moreover, the attempt to recover the unity and spontaneity of 
instinct usually involves another dualism — that between a 
man’s “heart” (in the sense of his impulsive and emotional 
self) and his “head” (in the sense of his analytical intellect) 
which destroys unity and leads him to see things, as Words- 
worth phrases it, “in disconnection dead and spiritless.” 

The difficulties in the way of maintaining the benevolent 
theory of ethics have increased in direct measure as the nature 
“red in tooth and claw” of the evolutionist has been substi- 
tuted for the idyllic nature of Rousseau. These difiiculties may 

* Neue Paralipomena. FouillCe seems to have missed the point 
seriously when he affirms (Descartes, p. 198) that in giving the pri- 
macy to will Schopenhauer continues Descartes. So far as Descartes's 
emphasis on the divine will is genuine, it is a survival of Christian 



be illustrated from Huxley's attempt to deal with the problem 
of the will. In his “Evolution and Ethics’’ (Eomanes Lecture, 
1893) he develops the thesis that civilization and the cosmic 
process are sharply at variance with one another. A man 
should therefore in the interests of society seek to rise superior 
to this process. The lecture ends with an eloquent exhortation 
to effort and struggle along these anti-cosmic lines. At the 
same time Huxley denies that man has a will that transcends 
the cosmic process and moves in an opposite direction from it. 
He adopts unreservedly the determinism of Hume.' He pro- 
claims that “man, physical, intellectual and moral, is as much 
a part of nature, as purely a part of the cosmic process as the 
humblest weed.” ^ In that case, if one is to avoid the Nietz- 
schean conclusion, it would seem necessary to affirm like Rous- 
seau and the sentimentalists some principle of benevolence in 
Nature herself. On the contrary, Huxley declares in the most 
uncompromising fashion that Nature is ruthless.' When one 
confronts with one another passages of the kind I have been 
citing it is hard to avoid the conclusion reached by Mr. P. 
E. More ' that Huxley is m his main trend a naturalistic 

Recent philosophers like Bergson and James and Croce 
cannot be said to differ essentially in their dealings with the 
will from the older partisans of a subrational unity and spon- 
taneity as a mode of escape from mechanism. Bergson exalts a 
type of “intuition” that involves a more or less complete 
turning away from the analytical intellect on the ground that 
it leads to the setting up of a “block universe”; at the same 
time he eliminates the will to refrain (Jrein vital) in favor of 
6lan vital. He differs however from many of his romantic for- 
bears, as I have already remarked (p. 17), by associating 6lan 
vital not with a will to brotherhood but with a will to power. 
Signor Piccoli points out that Croce’s view of the will has 
much in common with that of Bergson.® Croce is not, how- 

* See Hume, ch. x. • Worka (Eversley Ed., ix, p. 11). 

• Works (Appleton Ed., rx, p. 200). 

‘ Shelbume Essays, viii, p. 193 £f. * Benedetto Croce, p. 198. 



ever, so frankly imperialistie. James, again, though he felt 
himself in intimate accord with the ideas of Bergson, is nearer 
to the older romantic psychology. Consider, for example, his 
essay “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings." Men are 
not most human, it would seem, in their moments of strenuous 
effort with reference to a human law that they possess in com- 
mon; on the contrary, they are most themselves in the reveries 
of their idle and irresponsible moments; * they should at least 
try to enter sympathetically into one another’s romantic 
dreams. In general the difficulty of discovering any basis for a 
genuine ethical communion among men becomes acute if one 
seeks, like James and Bergson, to prove freedom and spon- 
taneity by the “gushing forth” of novelty in the cosmic proc- 
ess.^ It is hard to see how men can come together in their 
differences. Moreover, Nature herself may be active in pro- 
ducing the vital variations that the intellect can neither fore- 
see nor formulate, but the man in whom the “creative” evolu- 
tion is taking place is not active; from a truly human point of 
view, he remains both passive and purposeless. In the popular 
summing up of this whole philosophical trend, he does not 
know where he is going but merely that he is on the way. He 
may be sure in any case that, as a result of his failure to put 
forth a specifically human quality of will, he is not on the way 
to peace or brotherhood. 

I have already said something about two contemporary 
doctrines, psycho-analysis and behaviorism, that, at least as 
popularly interpreted, tend to break down the principle of con- 
trol in human nature, and to that extent to disintegrate civili- 
zation. It may be well to add a word about behaviorism. Man 
is an animal among other animals, and in so far is subject to 
laboratory methods. When, however, one attempts to base a 

1 “The holidays of life are its most vitally significant portions, be- 
cause they are, or at least should be, covered with just this kind of 
magically irresponsible spell/’ The point of view is related to that of 
Schiller when he says (TTerfcc, Goedeke Ed., x, p. 327); “Der Mensch 
ist nur da ganz Mensch, wo cr spielt." 

* For attempts of James to prove free will in this way see A Phira- 
liatic Universe, p. 391 n.; also Some Problems of Philosojihyi p, 146. 



complete explanation of conduct on such methods, * when, on 
the pretext that one must be “objective,” one refuses to dis- 
criminate qualitatively between the behavior of a man and 
that of a frog, the result is naturalism gone mad. The be- 
haviorist is not only pushing the mechanistic view of life to a 
point where he denies certain “immediate data of conscious- 
ness” but, in his eagerness to reduce everything to stimuli and 
physical reactions, he is in a fair way to eliminate conscious- 
ness itself. If, as Dr. Johnson says, all experience bears witness 
to the freedom of the will, one must conclude that the extreme 
behaviorist is turning his back on something that is highly 
experimental in favor of a theory. 

In genera], this very inadequate review of theories of the will 
held by the professional philosophers seems to confirm the 
wider survey I have attempted in the body of this volume. If 
the older treatment of the will led to a theological nightmare, 
the more recent treatment has only too often resulted in a 
metaphysical bewilderment. There has been a failure, on the 
whole, to assert in a positive and critical form certain truths of 
the inner life that were compromised by the interminable 
wrangUngs of the religious sects about God’s will and its mode 
of operation. 

‘ For an attempt of this kind see J. B. Watson: Psychology from the 
Standpoint of a Behaviorist (1919). For a discussion of the whole 
tendency see Mary W. Calkins: The Truly Psychological Behaviorism 
{Psychological Review, vol. 28, p. 1-18). 



By their distrust of absolutism combined with their respect 
for standards and the discipline in the State that only stand- 
ards can give, our liberals of the unionist type are, as I have 
remarked (p. 246), close to the English political tradition of 
which the best exponent is Burke. Much of the Englishman’s 
concern for personal liberty, it has been maintained, is merely 
an aspect of his humorousness (in the older sense of the word), 
of his dislike of conformity and regimentation; and so is in a 
way a denial of standards. But this is not the whole truth, 
English statesmen at their best have attained to some con- 
ception of the liberty that is at the heart of genuine Chris- 
tianity and have been more successful than the statesmen of 
any other country in making this conception politically ef- 

The lover of personal liberty is inclined to esteem it a fortu- 
nate circumstance that the common law never gave way in 
England, as it did in various European countries, to Roman 
law. I am not competent to discuss so vast a subject as the 
influence of Roman law on the mediffivaJ and modem world, 
nor does my present subject require it. It is enough for my 
purpose to point out that the conception of liberty found in 
Roman law, even at its best, is very inferior to the Christian 
conception; it reflects unduly Stoic rationalism and, like all 
Greek and Roman political philosophy, is ready to sacrifice in 
a quite unwarranted measure the individual to the State. At 
its worst Roman law does not deserve to be called Roman at 
all but Byzantine. One should note the origin assigned in 
Roman law to the idea of 'plmitvdo potestatis or unlimited 
sovereignty, an idea that can be shown to have had a con- 
siderable influence on the absolutists of the late mediaeval and 



early modern period. By the lex regia, we read in the “Di- 
gest,” ^ the Roman people made over its unbounded power to 
the emperor. The reasons for this renunciation are worth 
pondering. At the instigation of its demagogues, the Roman 
people had refused to limit itself and had at the same time 
tended towards the type of equaUty that is won at the expense 
of quality and the due subordination to standards that quality 
always requires. So far as our modern democracies are pursu- 
ing a merely quantitative equality, their fate would seem to be 
foreshadowed by this Roman development. The moment 
comes, sooner or later, when the concentration of power in the 
hands of one man is felt as a relief from the irresponsible 
tyranny of the mob. This is at all events the process by which 
a radical democracy passes over normally into what I have 
termed a decadent imperialism. 

The genuinely mediaeval conception of sovereignty is very 
different from the conception I have been associating with the 
lex regia and Roman law. For the Christian, sovereignty does 
not derive from the people as in Roman law but from God, who 
is conceived primarily not as reason but as will. The whole 
tendency of the doctrine of grace is to make this will seem 
absolute and irresponsible, a sort of supernatural bon plaidr. 
I have already said something about the historical justification 
of the doctrine of grace; one may maintain without exaggera- 
tion that it saved Western civilization. By historical justi- 
fication I do not mean that the doctrine is to be regarded as a 
“useful fiction”; the saving element in it is its truth — its em- 
phasis on the higher wdll. At the same time I have hinted at 
the difficulties that the doctrine offers to the individualist. 
The acceptance of the maxim that man is the measure of all 
things — and all individualists must accept the maxim in 
some form ^ — is fatal to every absolute whether of will or 

* Book 1 , 4.1 ; see also Institutes, Book 1 , 2.8. So far as it refers to one 
specific transaction, the lex regia is of course a juristic fiction. The 
concentration of power in the hands of the emperor was more gradual. 

2 1 have discussed the various meanings that this maxim may have 
in the last chapter of The Maetere of Modem French Criticism* 



reason. Absolute and unlimited will in the religious sense has 
often run over into a will to power, even when the rulers who 
asserted it have professed to do so only as the humble recipi- 
ents of the grace of a divine sovereign. The tendency of a be- 
lief in the arbitrary sovereignty of God to result imperialisti- 
cally may be illustrated not only from the history of royalty by 
divine right but also from that of the papacy. 

In my first chapter I attempted to trace the transition 
through an intermediary period of rationalism from the me- 
diffival belief in absolute will to another form of the same be- 
lief, — the transition, in short, from the sovereignty of God to 
the sovereignty of the people. The superiority of the person 
who conceives of the pohtical problem in terms of will in any 
sense of the word is that he is taking his stand for something 
vital and primary, something compared with which reason will 
finally prove to be only secondary and instrumental. It is 
interesting to consider from this point of view the rationalistic 
absolute of Hegel. According to Hegel the Idea, after various 
incomplete historical manifestations, finally found its perfect 
incarnation in the Prussian State. The absolute reason that is 
supposed to animate this State has shown itself in practice, 
most persons would agree, the servant of the will to power. 

The rival claims of reason and will may also be studied in- 
terestingly in connection with international law. This whole 
subject is now under the suspicion of being chimerical. If this 
suspicion should prove to be justified, the explanation is either 
that international law has given a primacy to reason that does 
not belong to it or else has been unduly superficial in its treat- 
ment of wiU. The representatives of the so-called positive 
school of international law have tended to confine themselves 
to recording the unfolding wills of various sovereign states in 
their relations with one another. If this record is to deserve 
the name of law at all, it should surely be distinguishable from 
mere force, from the will to power of some state or league of 
states at any particular international crisis. At this point one 
perceives that the fortunes of international law are closely 
bound up with the new doctrine of will that has tended to take 



the place of the mediseval dependence on the divine will as well 
as of the later reign of rationalism. The question as to the 
quality of will that the sovereign people is hkely to display is 
subordinate to the question as to the truth or falsity of Rous- 
seau’s underlying dogma of natural goodness. The tendency of 
this dogma is to discredit both inner and outer control. With 
the disappearance of control, popular will becomes only an- 
other name for popular impulse. I have already concluded 
that what manifests itself in a people that has reached this 
stage of naturalistic expansion is not a will to brotherhood but 
a will to power. One must admit the imperialistic elements 
that insinuated themselves into the humanistic and religious 
traditions of the Occident, especially in connection with the- 
ories of absolute and unlimited sovereignty. Yet these tradi- 
tions were after all in some measure genuine and so did some- 
thing to set bounds to the libido dominandi. For at the heart 
of genuine religion is c, will to peace and at the heart of genuine 
humanism is a will to justice; whereas, if my analysis be cor- 
rect, radical democracy and imperialism are in their essence 

I have already said something about the other side of the 
modem movement in its relation to theories of sovereignty 
(p 296f.).‘ The utilitarian is tending to conceive of the State 
in a more and more absolute fashion. He feels that its 
power should suffer no restriction when it is seeking to 
promote what is socially useful, the greatest good of the 
greatest number. The underlying fallacy of the utilitarian, I 
have said, is that he conceives of the “greatest good” and 
of happiness in general in terms of pleasure or else in terms 
of a merely outer working. Society is bound to protect 
itself against the unrestraint of the individual, but it it is not 
to push this necessary assertion of its authority to an oppress- 
ive extreme, it needs to take cognizance not only of outer 

' Perhaps the best known attempt to base a theory of sovereignty 
on utility and social expediency ia that of John Austin in his Promnca 
of Jurisprudence Determined U332 ; 2nd ed., 1861). See especially 

di. Ti. 



working but also of the inner working that is the final source 
of a sound individualism. To do so is not to become abstract 
but on the contrary to turn from sociological theorizing to 
positive psychological observation. 

This brief survey of theories of absolute sovereignty would 
seem to confirm the passage of John Adams that serves as one 
of the epigraphs of this volume. From the lex regia to the 
utilitarian-sentimental movement these theories have been as- 
sociated with a series of theological and metaphysical conceits 
that have, in their ultimate implications, been subversive of 
personal liberty. 


I HAVE included in this bibliography the more important 
works mentioned in the body of this volume; also a few others 
that, for one reason or another, seem especially relevant to the 
topics I have discussed. 

Acton, Lord: 

Leiiers of Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone. 1904. 

The History of Freedom and Other Essays. 1907. 

Althtjsius, J.: 

Politica melhodice digesta. 1603. 


Nicomachean Ethics. Tr. by D.P. Chase. 1847. (Reprint 
in Everyman’s Library.) 

Politics. Tr. by B. Jowett. 1905. 

Ahnim, H. von: 

Die politischen Theorien des Alterlums. 1910. 

Atgbr, F.: 

Essai sur Vhisloire des doctrines du contrat social. 1906. 
AuatJSTiNE, S.unt: 

De Civitate Dei. Ed. E. HoSman. 2 vols. 1898. Tr. by 
M. Dods. 1897. 

Barker, E.: 

Political Thought in England from Herbert Spencer to the 
Present Day. 1915. 

Greek Political Theory. 1918. 

Beveriboe, a. J.: 

The life of John Marshall. 4 vols. 1916. 

Mr. Beveridge brings out interestingly the iirecon- 
cilable opposition between Marshall and Jefferson. 
He should, however, at some point in his work have 



discriminated sharply between the unionist and the 
nationalist of imperialistic leanings. Marshall is very 
far from being a precursor of Roosevelt. 

Bossuet, J. B.: 

Polilique lirSe de V&criture sainte. 1709. 

Bourgeois, E.: 

Manuel historiqw de politique etrangkre. 3 vols. 4® 4d. 

Burke, E.; 

Works. 8 vols. (Bohn Library.) 1854-61. 

Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1790. 

Letter to a Member of the National Assembly. 1791. 

Burt, J. B.; 

The Idea of Progress. 1921. 

Carlyle, R. W., and A. J.: 

A History of Mediceval Political Theory. 4 vols. 1903-22. 

Chateaubriand, F. R. de: 

Essai historique, politique el moral sur les Revolutions. 1797. 

M&moires d’Outre-Tombe (1848). Ed. E. Bir4. 6 vols. 


The Sayings of Confucius (Analects). Tr. by L. Giles. 

The Conduct of Life. Tr. by Ku Hung Ming. 1906. 

This is the Confucian treatise usually entitled The 
Doctrine of the Mean. A still more literal rendering of 
the two Chinese words that make up the title, if we 
accept Mr. Ku Hung Ming’s explanation of them, 
would be the “universal norm” or “centre.” 

Cumberland, R.: 

De Legibus naturce. 1672. 

Dante Alighieri: 

De Monarchia. About 1310. Ed. Moore. 1904. Tr. by 
P. H. Wicksteed in Temple Classics. 



Dedieu, J. : 

Montesquieu et lo, tvodition politique unqlaise en Ftunce 

Diels, H.: 

Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. 2 vols. (in 3) 2d ed 

Denning, W. A.: 

A History of Political Theories. 3 vols. 1902-20. 

Fehgeson, W. F.: 

Greek Imperialism. 1913. 

Fester, R.; 

Rousseau und die deutsche GeschichtsphilosopMe. 1890. 

Figgis, J. N. : 

Studies of Polilical ThougMfrom Gerson to Grotius. 1907. 
2d ed. 1916. 

An excellent treatment of the all-important period of 
transition from a theocratic Europe to a Europe of 
great territorial nationalities. 

The Divine Eight of Kings. 1914. 

Filmer, R.; 

Pairiarcha; or The Natural Potver of Kings. 1680. (Re- 
printed together with Locke’s Treatises of Government 
in Morley’s Universal Library.) 

Frank, T.: 

Roman Imperialism. 1914. 

Fustel de Coulanges, N. D.: 

La Cit& antique. 1864. 16th ed. 1898. Tr. by W. Small. 

It is difficult to exhibit the relation between ethos 
and political forms without seeming, and perhaps with- 
out being, too systematic. La CiU antique has been 
criticized severely from this point of view. C. Bdmont, 
however, goes too far when he asserts (article on Fustel 
in the 11th edition of Encyclopcedia Britannica) that it 


“has been largely superseded”; on the contrary, it is, 
in certain important respects, a work of almost defini- 
tive excellence. 

Gierke, O.: 

Political Theories of the Middle Age. Tr. and ed. by F. W. 
Maitland. 1900. 

Johannes Althusius. 1880. 3d ed. 1913. 

A valuable repertory of information on such topics as 
natural rights and the social contract. Gierke probably 
exaggerates, however, the influence of Althusius on 
Rousseau who mentions him only once (end of 6° 
Lettre icrite de la Montagne). 

Gomperz, T.; 

Griechische Denker. 2d ed. 3 vols. 1903-09. Tr. by L. 
Magnus and G. G. Berry. 1901-12. 

Gooch, G. P.: 

Germany and the French Revolution. 1920. 

Grottos, H.: 

De Jure belli et pads. 1625. Tr. by Whewell. 3 vols. 1853. 

Hbarnshaw, F. J. C. (editor): 

The Social and Political Ideas of some Great Mediceval 
Thinkers. 1923. 

In one of the articles of this volume Eileen Power 
points out that Pierre Du Bois, a lawyer in the service 
of Phnippe le Bel, formulated a plan of European peace 
that anticipated in some respects the Grand Dessein of 
Sully. This plan, like that of Sully, would have re- 
sulted practically in the French domination of Europe. 

Hobbes, T.: 

Leviathan. 1651. Ed. W. G. Pogson Smith. 1909. 

Hooker, R.: 

Ecclesiastical Polity. 1592. (Reprint in Everyman’s 



Hume, D.: 

A Treatise of Human Nature. 1739-40. (Reprint in 
Everyman’s Library.) 

Janet, P.: 

Histoire de la science politique. 2 vols. 1858. 4th ed. 1913. 
Jefferson, T.: 

Works. 10 vols. Ed. P. L. Ford. 1892-99. 

Laski, H. J.: 

Political Thought from Locke to Bentham. 1920. 

Leckt, W. E. H.; 

Democracy and Liberty. 2 vols. 1896. 

Locke, J.; 

Two Treatises of Government. 1690. (Reprint in Morley’s 
Universal Library.) 

Louter, J. de; 

Le Droit international positif. 1920. 

MacDonald, J. R.: 

The Socialist Movement. 1911. 

Machiavelli, N.: 

Del modo tenuto dal duca Valentino neU’ ammazzare 
Vitellozzo Vitelli, etc. 1502. 

II Principe. 1513. 

Vita di Castruccio Castricani. 1520. 

Translations of all three pieces appear in the same 
volume of Everyman’s Library. 

Maine, Sir H. J. S.: 

Ancient Law. 1861. (Reprint in Eversnnan’s Library.) 
See especially eh. iv, “The Modem History of the Law 
of Nature.” 

Maistre, j. de; 

Du Pape. 1819. 

Soirees de Saint-Pilersbourg. 1821. 

The “Premier entretien” contains the celebrated 
“Portrait du bourreau." 



Mandeville, B.; 

Ths Fable of the Bees. 1714. {The Grumbling Hive, the 
verses that form the nucleus of this volume, appeared 
originally in 1705). 5th ed., 2 vols. 1728-29. 
Mabsilius op Padtja: 

Defensor Pads. 1324. Text in Goldast, Monarchia S. 
Imperii Romani. 

Meeriam, C. E.; 

American Political Theories. 1903. New ed. 1920. 
Michel, H.: 

L’Idee de Vetat. 1896. 

Mill, J. S. ; 

On Liberty. 1859. (Reprinted together with the essays on 
Utilitarianism and Representative Government in Every- 
man’s Library.) 

Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat de la BiihDE, 
Baron de: 

De I’Esprit des Lois. 1748. 

Oliver, F. S.: 

Alexander Hamilton; an Essay on American Union. 1907. 
Pascal, B.: 

Pensees et opuscules. Ed. L. Brunschvicg. 1917. 


Works. Tr. by B. Jowett. 5 vols. 3d ed. 1892. 

Pound, R.: 

The Spirit of the Common Law, 1921. 

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law. 1922. 

Powers, H. H.: 

America among the Nations, 1917. 

Renan, E.: 

La Riforme intellectuelle et morale. 1871. 

Ritchie, D. G.: 

Natural Rights. 1894. 3d ed. 1916. 

The notion of natural rights is, according to Ritchie, 



chimerical and leads to an unsound individualism. 
What he opposes to this unsoundness is not a sound 
individualism but social expediency, which is itself, in 
virtue of the doctrine of evolution, constantly changing. 
A useful feature of this book is the appendix which 
contains the more important eighteenth-century dec- 
larations of rights in France and America. 

Rousseau, J. J.: 

(Euvres computes. 13 vols. (Hachette.) 

There is no good complete edition. 

The Folilical Writings. 2 vols. Ed. C. E. Vaughan. 1915. 

Vaughan has done good work on the text. In his in- 
troductory material, on the other hand, he develops 
ideas — for example, the idea that Rousseau is politi- 
cally a true Platonist — which will not bear serious 
scrutiny. • 

Saint-Pierre, Abb6 be: 

Projet pour rendre la pais perplluelk en Europe. 1712-17. 

Schopenhauer, A.: 

Grundlage der Moral. 1840. Tr. by A. B. Bullock. 2d ed. 

SEiLuhRB, E.: 

L’lmpirialisme dimocraiique. 1907. 

Le Mai romantique. 1908. 

Introduction d la philosopkie de l’imp6rialisme. 1911. 

Le Piril mystique dans V inspiration, des dimocraties 
modemes. 1918. 

Bcihacet la morale rirmantigue. 1922. 

Vers le sodalisme ralionnel. 1923. 

M. SeilliSre intends this last volume as a summary 
of his whole point of view. Among the expositions of 
his philosophy that have been published by others the 
best is that by R. Giilouin: Une novseUe phihsophie de 
I’histoire modeme (1921). See also La Pensie d’Emest 
twelve studies by con temporary French writers. 



1923 (Bibliography at the end). M. SeilliSre has been 
criticized for giving an undue extension to the term 
imperialism. A more legitimate objection is that to 
his use of the word “mysticism.” On this latter point 
see Henri Bremond: Histoire litteraire du sentiment 
religieux en France, vol. iv (1920), p. 566 n. 

SHAi'TESBDUY, Anthont Ashlet Coopeb, Thikd Eael of: 

Characterislichs of Men, Manners, Opinions and Times, 
1711. 2ded. 1714. Ed. J. M. Robertson. 1900. 

The Life, unpublished Letters and Phibsophical Regimen. 
Ed. B. Rand. 1900. 

Smith, A.: 

The Theory of Moral Senliments. 1761. 6th ed. with criti- 
cal and biographical memoir by Dugald Stewart, 1790. 
(Reprint in Bohn’s Library.) 

The Wealth of Nations. 1776. (Reprint in Everyman’s 

Spengleh, 0.: 

Der Untergang des Abendlandes. 2 vols. 1919-22. 

Stephen, Fitzjames: 

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. 2d ed. 1874. 

Tagore, Rabindranath: 

Nationalism. 1917. 

Troltsch, E. : 

Augustin, die christliche Antike und die Miltelalier. 1915. 

Viallate, A.: 

UlmpirialisTne economique el les rebtions inbrnationcdes 
pendant b dernier demi-sbck {1870-19W). 1923. 

Whitman, W.; 

Leaves of Grass. 1855. 

Democratic Vistas. 1871. 

Zanta, L.: 

La Renaissance du sbicisme au XVI‘ Sikle, 1914. 


Acton, Lord, 2, 94, 127, 178, 184, 
298 n. 

Adams, Henry, 231 n., 252 n. 
Adams, Herbert B., 305 n. 
Adams, John, 306, 335. 

Adams, John Quincy, 248. 
Addison, 13. 

Alexander, 139. 

Anselm, Saint, 118 n. 

Aquinas, Saint Thomas, 2, 30, 

164, 320. 

Aristophanes, 148, 149. 

Aristotle, 2, 27, 30, 31, 32, 35 n., 
44, 46, 54, 61, 64, 70, 78, 83, 92, 
117, 149, 150, 152 n., 163, 164, 

165, 192, 199, 204, 205, 209, 
213, 214, 258, 273, 276, 299, 
301, 302, 308, 309, 320. 

Arnold, Matthew, 160, 243, 281. 
Asoka, 159, 160. 

Asquith, 289. 

Asquith, Mrs., 203. 

Attiia, 158. 

Augustine, Saint, 2, 21, 30, 31, 
176, 319. 

Austin, John, 334 n. 

Bacon, Francis, 30, 94, 103, 113, 
143, 169, 190, 192, 197, 259, 
314, 321. 

Bacon, Roger, 113. 

Bagehot, W., 106. 

Balzac, Honor6 de, 17 n., 21 n. 
Barabbas, 264. 

Barker, Ernest, 286 n. 

Bentham, 224 n., 296 r. 

Bergson, Henri, 17, 18, 162, 189, 
183 n., 224, 229, 301, 328, 329. 
Bernard, Saint, 108 n., 178 n. 
Bismarck, 41. 

Blair, Dr., 85 n. 

Bodley, J. E. C., 287 n. 
Boerhaave, 324 n. 

Boileau, 277. 

Bordes, 74 n. 

Borgia, Caesar, 39. 

Bossuet, 21, 65, 56, 67, 68, 60, 67; 
187, 219, 260, 276, 277, 301. 

Bourgeois, E., 130 n. 

Boutroux, E., 131. 

Brownell, W. C., 167 n. 

Bryan, W. J., 240, 282, 285. 

Bryce, Lord, 241. 

Buddha, 32, 33, 36, 67 n., 158, 
160, 161, 162, 163, 168, 169, 
170, 173, 184, 194, 195, 199, 
202, 209, 214, 222, 273, 275. 

Burke, 22, 69, 96, 97-116, 126, 
128, 141, 157, 166, 178, 199, 
202, 207, 221 n„ 246, 251, 258, 
262, 272, 293, 331. 

Byron, Lord, 244. 

Cfflsar, 29, 31, 44, 54, 92, 98, 196, 
270, 284, 285, 286, 288. 

Calhoun, J., 247. 

Caligula, 141. 

Calkins, Mary W., 330 n. 

Cal-rin, 54, 74, 188, 189, 190 n.,' 

Carlyle, 7, 131, 137, 138, 140, 209, 

211 . 

Castricani, Castruccio, 39. 

Ch.aplin, Charlie, 240. 

Chateaubriand, 126 n., 128, 140, 
217, 220. 

Chavannes, E., 163 n. 

Chesterton, G. K., 125. 

Christ (Jesus), 33, 34, 98, 130, 
132, 140, 158, 169, 160, 161, 
163, 164, 170, 172, 177, 195, 
264, 269, 273, 275, 283, 284, 
289, 291, 298. 

Chu Hsi, 164. 

Chuquet, A., 130 n. 

Cicero, 2, 19, 47, 149 n., 268, 270, 
291, 292. 

Cimon, 148 n. 



Cineas, 271. 

Cleon, 281. 

Cleveland, Grover, 288. 

Cloota, Anaoharsis, 124. 
Coleridge, 13, 130 n., 221. 

Comte, Auguste, 258. 

Condorcet, 132. 

Confucius, 3, 33, 34, 35, 36, 61, 
154, 158, 163, 164, 165, 184, 
199, 200, 273, 277 n., 279, 301, 
310 n. 

Cowdray, Lord, 163. 

Croce, B., 328. 

Cromwell, 113. 

Cumberland, R., 47, 216. 

CuTzon, Lord, 153. 

Dante, 25, 29, 142, 161, 219. 
Danton, 126. 

Darwin, 164, 327. 

Daudet, Won, 228. 

Dedieu, J., 63 n. 

Descartes, 62, 68, 224, 226, 319 s., 
321, 322, 323, 324, 327 n. 
Dewey, John, 312, 313. 

Diderot, 10, 67, 293. 

Diels, H., 168 n. 

DlsraeU, 103, 106, 216, 276. 
Dreiser, Theodore, 254. 

Dryden, 141, 265, 266. 

Duns Scotus, 113, 190, 319, 320, 

Edison, 241. 

Edwards, Jonathan, 89, 141, 189, 
257, 290 n. 

Eldon, Lord, 77. 

Eliot, Charies W., 290, 303. 
Emerson, R. W., 167. 

Epictetus, 50, 216, 278 n, 
Erasmus, 25, 180, 189. 

Erastus, 53. 

Euripides, 181. 

Eabricius, 74. 

Faguet, E., 64, 108 n., 165. 
Fester, Richard, 79 a. 

Fielding, 72. 

Filmer, R., 53, 54, 68. 
Flamininus, 270. 

Ford, Henry; 6, 146, 212, 239, 
241, 253, 282. 

Forke, Alfred, 151 n. 

Fosdick, Raymond B., 256 n. 
Fouill6e, A., 327 n. 

France, Anatole, 81, 294, 295. 
Francia, Dr., 211. 

Frank, Tenney, 270 n. 

Franklin, Benjamin, 311. 
Frederick the Great, 41, 131, 211. 
Fustel de Coulanges, 27, 54, 253 n. 

Galileo, 321. 

Galley, Mademoiselle, 79. 

Genghis Khan, 168. 

George III, 77. 

Gervinus, 135. 

Geulincx, 324 n. 

Gilson, E., 320 n., 321. 

Gladstone, Mary, 2 n. 

Goethe, 130, 138, 145, 211, 241, 

Gompers, Samuel, 232, 307. 
Gomperz, 61 n. 

Gooch, G. P., 130 n. 

GraSenried, Mademoiselle, 79. 
Grey, Viscount, 289. 

Grotius, 45, 52, 71, 122. 

Halifax, 105. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 248 n. 
Hardy, Thomas, 132, 140. 
Hawkins, Sir John, 72, 

Hay, John, 249 n. 

Hazlitt, W., 279. 

Heamshaw, F. J. C., 71 n. 
Hearst, Wm. Randolph, 240, 264, 

Hegel, 333, 

Heine, H., 121. 

Heliogabalus, 271. 

Henry IV (Holy Roman Em- 
peror), 28. 

Henry IV (of France), 121, 122. 
Hesiod, 206. 

Hildebrand, 178 n. 

Hobbes, 22, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45. 46, 
47, 48. 59, 72. 74, 87, 90, 94, 
100, 121, 122, 232, 324, 327 . 
Hooker, B., 71. 



Horace, 271. 

Hugo, Victor. 129, 231. 

Hume, D., 51, 85, 165 n., 216, 
224, 225, 234, 324, 325 n., 326, 

Hutcheson, F., 48, 51. 

Huxley, 325, 326 n., 328. 

Jackson, Andrew, 246. 

Jacobi, 325 n. 

James, Wm., 328, 329. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 196, 240, 242, 
246, 247, 248, 249, 251, 305. 
Jhering, 296 n. 

Johnson, Samuel, 72, 206, 228, 
325 330 

Joubert, 12, 63, 74, 112, 113, 273, 
279 n. 

Judas, 190 n. 

Juvenal, 18. 

Kahl, Wilhelm, 319 n., 321 n. 
Kant, I., 131, 224, 225, 226, 324, 
325, 326. 

Krishna, 80. 

La Mettrie, 324 n. 

Lanson, G., 84, 85, 86. 

La Rochefoucauld, 41, 48. 

Laski, Harold J.. 223, 224. 

Lear, Edward, 80. 

Lecky, 115. 

Legge, Dr., 36. 

Lenin, 266, 312. 

Leonidas, 108 n. 

Lilly, W. S.. 83. 

Lincoln, A., 81, 248, 249, 250, 
251, 280. 
livy, 236, 271. 

Lloyd George, D., 1. 

Locke, J., 42, 68, 59, 60. 61, 62, 
63, 71, 74, 102, 103, 191, 224 n., 

Louis XIV, 66, 67, 124. 

Louis XV, 65. 

Louis, Saint, 66. 

Louter, J. de, 266 n. 

Lowell, James B., 218, 234, 
Lucretius, 217. 

Luther, 25, 63, 188, 189. 

Lycurgus, 74, 89. 

Macaulay, 103. 

MacDonald, J. Ramsay, 316. 
McDougall, Wm., 245. 
Machiavolli, 22, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 
43, 44, 46, 48, 63, 70, 94, 119, 
134, 135, 137, 314. 

Maistre, Joseph de, 67, 68. 
Malesherbes, 79 n. 

Mallet du Fan, lOS. 

Mandeville, 48, 49, 50, 61, 62, 
65 n., 72, 73. 

Manu, 32. 

Marat, 281. 

Marcus Aurelius, 11, 46, 50, 167, 

Marie Antoinette, 104, 124. 
MarshaU, John, 248, 250, 25H 

Marsilius of Padua, 58. 

Marvell, 113. 

Marx, Karl, 191, 223, 280. 
Masson, P, M., 95 n. 

Mei-ti, 161. 

Melancthon, 190 n. 

Mencius, 151 n., 193. 

Mencken, H. L., 274. 

Mercier, Cardinal, 28. 

M6ricourt, Mile. Th^roigne de, 
126 n. 

Michel Angelo, 108 n. 

Mill, J. 8., 103, 111, 201, 286 n.; 
324 n. 

Milnes, Monckton, 231. 

Milton, 80. 

Mirabeau, Marquis de, 86, 162. 
Mohammed, 161. 

Montaigne, 274 n. 

Montesquieu, 18, 63, 64, 65, 66i 
87, 219. 

More, P. E., 328. 

Murry, J. Middleton, 136 n. 
Mussolini, 312. 

Napoleon, 10, 128, 129, 130, 132, 
139, 140, 141, 266. 

Nero, 18, 141, 264. 

Newman, Cardinal, 166, 182. 
Nicolsy, 249 n. 


Nietzsche, 228, 327. 

Occam, William of, 113, 321. 
Oliver, F. S., 248 n. 

Origen, 319. 

Ovid, 172. 

Page, Walter H., 280. 

Paine, Tom, 104. 

Paley, 77. 

Palmer, George H., 272 n. 

Papini, 284 n. 

Pascal, 12. 2S. 37, 42, 62, 166, 167, 
179, 180, 237, 274 n., 301, 322. 
Pater, Walter, 107. 

Paul, Saint, 159, 160, 173, 190 n. 
Pericles, 36, 148 n. 

Philo Judaeus, 171. 

Picooli, R., 328. 

Pindar, 168. 

Pius IX, 144. 

Plato, 11, 12, 30, 31, 32, 33, 61 n.. 
87, 92, 149, 150, 168, 169, 171, 
172, 173, 176, 177, 202, 231. 
Pontius Pilate, 172. 

Pope, A., 48, 58. 

Pound, Roscoe, 296 n. 

Powers, H. H., 268 n. 

Proal, L., 77 n. 

Proudhon, 108 n. 

Pyrrhus, 139, 271. 

Rambouillet, Marquise de, 124. 
Raphael, 191. 

Rehberg, 100 n. 

Renan, E., 118, 130 n.. 292. 
Repington, Colonel, 203. 
Richelieu, 124, 139. 

Rickaby, Joseph, 324 n. 

Rivarol, 229. 

Roberts, Lord, 289. 

Robespierre, 89, 95, 125, 126, 127, 
217, 266. 

Rockefeller, J. D., 212. 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 249, 269. 
Rousseau, 1, 2, 4, 17, 18, 20, 21, 
61 n., 62, 68, 69, 69, 70-96, 
97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 107, 
108, 109, 115, 117, 118, 119, 
121, 122, 123, 126, 127, 132, 

167, 178, 183, 192, 195, 215; 
216, 217, 218, 219, 222, 228, 
229, 232, 237, 245, 276, 277, 
279, 287, 300, 327, 328, 334. 

Sainte-Beuve, 9, 90. 
Saint-Evremond, 139, 187. 
Saint-Just, 126. 

Saint-Pierre, AbbS de, 67, 121; 

122, 131. 

Sanson, 126 n. 

Savigny, 100 n. 

Schiller, 81, 325 n., 329 n. 
Schopenhauer, 73, 227, 326, 327. 
Schwab, 239. 

S6gur, Comte de, 125. 

SeiUifere, E., 17 n., 20, 21, 22, 260, 
Selden, John, 265. 

Seneca, 60 n., 71 n. 

Shaftesbury, Third Earl of, 48, 
49, 50, 51, 62, 72, 216, 325 n. 
Shakespeare, 137, 147. 

SheUey, P. B., 78, 77, 136, 137, 

220 , 222 . 

Shelley, Mrs., 133. 

Sherman, Stuart P., 251, 262. 
Shun, 200. 

Smith, Adam, 61, 191. 213. 

Smith, Vincent A., 160 n. 
Socrates, 32, 149, 165, 167, 172, 
173, 179, 264, 278, 283, 284, 298. 
Solomon, 80. 

Sophocles, 147, 295. 

Speed, 81. 

Spengler, Oswald, 20, 21. 

Spinoza, 322, 323, 324. 

Stael, Mme. de, 6, 96. 

Stephen, Fitzjames, 286 n. 
Stephen, Leslie, 209. 

Sully, 121. 

Sunday, Rev. William A., 240. 
Swift, Jonathan, 137. 

Synesius, 14. 

Tacitus, 232. 

Tagore, Rabindranath, 161, 162. 
Taine, H., 83, 100, 124, 127, 
Tamerlane, 158. 

Taylor, Jeremy, 137. 

Tennyson, 81 n., 268. 



TertulUan, 177 n. 

Thompson, D. W., 164 n. 

Thrale, 206. 

Thucydides. 38, 150. 

Tiberius, 18, 271. 

Ticknor, George, 305 n. 

Tyrrell, 141. 

d’Urf5, H.; 124. 

Vaihinger, 326. 

Vaughan, C. E., 115, 119 n., 122 n. 
Victoria, Queen, 276. 

ViUon, 28. 

Virgil, 231. 

Vogtl5, Vicomte M. de, 117. 
Voltaire. 48, 63, 68, 99. 323. 
Ward, Wilfrid. 81 n. 

Washington; George! 246, 247, 
248, 249, 250, 251, 263, 269, 270. 
Watson, J. B., 330 n. 

Way, A. S., 181 n. 

Webster, D., 247. 

Weems, “Parson,” 249 n. 
Whitman, Walt, 4, 219, 228, 249, 
260, 267, 268. 

Wicksteed, P. H., 320 n. 

Wilson, Woodrow, 196, 268, 280! 

Wordsworth, Wm., 227, 327. 
Wright, Harold Bell, 240. 

Wulf, M. de, 320 n. 

Young, E., ISk 

Zanta, L., 71 Q.